How do ambitious young men grapple with an unemployment rate in urban Ethiopia hovering around fifty percent? Urban, educated, and unemployed young men have been the primary force behind the recent unrest and revolutions in North Africa and the Middle East. Daniel Mains' detailed and moving ethnographic study, a"Hope is Cut," examines young men's struggles to retain hope for the future in the midst of economic uncertainty and cultural globalization.
Through a close ethnographic examination of young men's day-to-day livesa"Hope is Cut"aexplores the construction of optimism through activities like formal schooling, the consumption of international films, and the use of khat, a mild stimulant.
Mains also provides a consideration of social theories concerning space, time, and capitalism. Young men here experience unemployment as a problem of timeOCothey often congregate on street corners, joking that the only change in their lives is the sun rising and setting. Mains addresses these factors and the importance of reciprocity and international migration as a means of overcoming the barriers to attaining aspirations.
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Daniel Mains is Wick Cary Assistant Professor of Honors at the University of Oklahoma.Review:
"Hope Is Cut is a thoughtful, penetrating, and moving analysis of the lives of young men in Ethiopia and how their predicament sheds light on existing debates in social theory regarding time, space, temporal narratives of progress, social stratification, youth, and neoliberal capitalism in Africa. Mains’s book not only looks at an issue of great importance in the contemporary world; it also connects the study of youth to issues in broader social theory. Hope Is Cut should have a wide array of potential applications and a long shelf life."
—Jennifer Cole, Professor, Department of Comparative Human Development, University of Chicago, and author of Sex and Salvation: Imagining the Future in Madagascar
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