Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences
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Location: GIP Gibbs G402a
Working with a cohort of boys aged 14–18 and classed as not in employment, education, or training (NEET) at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in the UK city of Brighton and Hove, this article follows their progress as they engage with instructors and other pupils at the YMCA, using qualitative modes of inquiry to explore their reactions, feelings, and attitudes. As I demonstrate, their aspirations and sense of emergent manhood is often predicated on new relationships generated in the YMCA spaces rooted in a culture of caring and responsible masculinity founded on implicit Christian values. Through interviews with young men and the people around them, I probe some of the tensions in this process, showing how persistent attachments to places and spaces beyond the YMCA can create feelings of ambivalence and, in some cases, a sense of alienation and marginality even as they begin to feel that they belong.
This paper extends research on geographies of ageing in relation to urban academic and policy debates. We illustrate how older people in urban African contexts deploy their agency through social and spatial (im)mobilities, intergenerational relations and (inter)dependencies. Through doing so, we reveal how urban contexts shape, and are shaped by, older people’s tactics for seizing opportunities and navigating the urban terrain. Our analysis demonstrates how a more substantive dialogue between insights on ageing in African contexts and urban ageing policy can create new forms of knowledge that are more equitable and just, both epistemologically and in their policy impacts.
This article examines the experiences of an often-neglected population group in geographical scholarship, namely, elderly people living in African cities. Using qualitative research conducted in the Ghanaian cities of Accra and Sekondi-Takoradi, we demonstrate how investigating older people’s mobilities, and examining how they influence social and economic processes, has important implications for how agency in urban contexts is conceptualized. We do so using a novel analytical framework that combines mobilities and social infrastructure approaches to generate empirical insights that are more attuned to the spontaneity, heterogeneity, and informality of African urbanism as encountered by older residents. Our findings extend scholarship on ageing and urban studies in two key ways. First, we reveal the dispositions, practices and strategies older residents deploy as part of their efforts to navigate the urban terrain. Through doing so we qualify popular narratives in geography, and allied disciplines, of older people as either care givers or care receivers. Second, we further scholarship in urban studies which, while more considerate of insights from the majority world, especially the experiences of children and youth, has overlooked how older people are shaping urban dynamics in Africa.
As the largest youth faith-based organisation (FBO) in the world, the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) offers a unique way to understand how transnational organisations are shaping local masculinities through complex forms of belonging and belief. Based on eighteen months of ethnographic research conducted in the United Kingdom and The Gambia, I explore the interconnected geographies of space, place and attachment in the lives of the young men I worked with. As I show through ethnographic vignettes and interviews with young men, their sense of belonging is often dictated by their own sense of attachment to places and spaces beyond the YMCA, creating feelings of ambivalence and in some cases increasing their sense of alienation and marginality.