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Zigzag Politics: Tea, Ballots, and Agency in Niger

341 Eggers Hall

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Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs  

Maxwell African Scholars Union


Zigzag Politics: Tea, Ballots, and Agency in Niger

A Talk by Adeline Masquelier, Professor, Aarhus Institute of Advanced Studies, Denmark, Department of Anthropology, Tulane University

In Niger, the fadas or tea-circles where young unemployed young men meet for tea, conversation, and friendship is also where they become initiated into the world of politics. Fadas are spaces of political debates that played an important role in the advent of democracy in the 1990s. Given Niger’s large youth population, fadas have become obligatory campaign stops for political candidates hoping to marshal youth support in elections. Campaigning politicians visit fadas and distribute gifts to secure young men’s political allegiance. Yet young men now see politics primarily as a business, the success of which hinges on securing wealthy patrons and accessing resources. This talk will explore how young men engage in “zigzag politics” in an age of chronic uncertainty. Rather than remaining faithful to a political party, young men shift allegiances whenever opportunities arise, mindful that the political landscape is shifty and unpredictable.

Sponsoring Departments: Maxwell African Scholars Union and Moynihan Institute of Global Affairs 

For more information, contact Havva Karakas-Keles,  

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Exterior of Maxwell in black and white when there was no Eggers building

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To mark our centennial in the fall of 2024, the Maxwell School will hold special events and engagement opportunities to celebrate the many ways—across disciplines and borders—our community ever strives to, as the Oath says, “transmit this city not only not less, but greater, better and more beautiful than it was transmitted to us.”

Throughout the year leading up to the centennial, engagement opportunities will be held for our diverse, highly accomplished community that now boasts more than 38,500 alumni across the globe.