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Leila Demarest receives LUF research grant

Leila Demarest, Assistant Professor of African Politics at Leiden University, has recently been awarded with a Leiden University Fund research grant to study adolescents’ political attitudes and inter-group tolerance in Lagos, Nigeria.

‘Urbanisation is the single most important transformation that the African continent will undergo this century.’ (World Bank)

Urbanisation and political instability in Africa?

Africa’s fast-growing cities have posed major concerns for national as well as international policymakers because urban growth in Africa is associated with only moderate, and often unequal economic growth. An increasing amount of studies have hence focused on urban poverty, inequality, and public service delivery. Yet, Africa’s growing cities have also been associated with conflict and instability. Indeed, many commentators and policymakers have warned that Africa’s urban crisis leads to anti-government protests and inter-group violence as a result of increasing desperation among urban poor.

Especially youths are argued to be susceptible to alienation, lower levels of political trust, and decreasing tolerance of other groups in increasingly impoverished and crowded cities. Little systematic empirical research has been conducted on the political attitudes of youths in Africa’s urban contexts, however. Political scientist Leila Demarest (Leiden University) is going to address this lacuna with the help of a considerable LUF research grant.

Investigating adolescents’ political trust and tolerance

Leila Demarest will analyse adolescents’ political trust and inter-group tolerance in both rural and urban settings in Lagos State, Nigeria. Her research will be based on surveys conducted with final year secondary school students.

Lagos city is one of Africa’s largest mega-cities, characterised by stark differences between rich and poor, high levels of in-migration and diversity, as well as crime and political unrest. The broader area of Lagos State also counts rural localities, which allows for urban-rural comparisons. The project is called Youths and the city: Investigating political socialization processes and attitudes of urban and rural youths in Lagos, Nigeria.

Leiden University Fund

Once a year the Leiden University Fund awards grants for scientific projects of Leiden University researchers, varying from € 5,000 to € 25,000. These grants for academic talent are often an important step towards grants by NWO and other institutions. Leila Demarest has been awarded €21,535 for her research.

Profile page Leila Demarest

Leiden University Fund

Photo’s: ‘Lagos’, by Leila Demarest

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