Students and universities have traditionally been considered bastions of (democratic) resistance. For decades, scholars across the world have examined political student movements and their role in democratic transitions. A significant body of literature focused on student activism during the “third wave” of democratisation. At the same time, there has been an emerging debate on the resurgence of authoritarian and autocratic regimes in formerly democratic middle-income countries. Here again, scholars predominantly have been emphasising students as actors of resistance who demand (democratic) reforms. Absent in this literature is the role that pro-regime student organisations play in the emergence, consolidation, and perseverance of such autocratic regimes. Considering that student politics is a common breeding ground for future politicians, especially in countries with strong student organisations, also in authoritarian contexts, understanding these pro-regime student groups offers fundamental insights into this “new authoritarianism”. Taking a comparative case study approach, this project focuses on pro-regime student groups in three autocratic countries: Bangladesh, Uganda, and Turkey. The key aim of the project is to understand how student political subjectivities are shaped by but also shape these autocratic regimes and the way in which patronage relations, political performances, coercion, and violence affect the formation of public authority structures.

  • Funding: Bijzonder Onderzoeksfonds (BOF)
  • Time period: 2020-2023
  • People involved: Julian Kuttig