Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global

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9780812218961: Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global
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Young people, it seems, are both everywhere and nowhere. The media are crowded with images of youth as deviant or fashionable, personifying a society's anxieties and hopes about its own transformation. However, theories of globalization, nationalism, and citizenship tend to focus on adult actors. Youthscapes sets youth at the heart of globalization by exploring the meanings young people have created for themselves through their engagements with popular cultures, national ideologies, and global markets.

The term "youthscapes" places local youth practices within the context of ongoing shifts in national and global forces. Using this framework, the book revitalizes discussions about youth cultures and social movements, while simultaneously reflecting on the uses of youth as an academic and political category. Tracing young people's movements across physical and imagined spaces, the authors examine various cases of young people as they participate in social relations; use and invent technology; earn, spend, need, and despise money; comprise target markets while producing their own original media; and create their own understandings of citizenship. The essays examine young Thai women working in the transnational beauty industry, former child soldiers in Sierra Leone, Latino youth using graphic art in political organizing, a Sri Lankan refugee's fan relationship with Jackie Chan, and Somali high school students in the United States and Canada. Drawing on methodologies and frameworks from multiple fields, such as anthropology, sociology, and film studies, the volume is useful to those studying and teaching issues of youth culture, popular culture, globalization, social movements, education, and media.

By focusing on the intersection between globalization studies and youth culture, the authors offer a vital contribution to the development of a new, interdisciplinary approach to youth culture studies.

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Sunaina Maira is Associate Professor of Asian American Studies, University of California, Davis. Elisabeth Soep teaches at the University of California, Berkeley, and is a Producer and the Education Director of Youth Radio.

Excerpt. Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:

Introduction
Sunaina Maira and Elisabeth Soep

Youth, it seems, are everywhere and nowhere. They are the focus of moral panics and appear regularly in the media in the guise of "folk devils" (Cohen 1972): the gun-toting high-schooler, the Palestinian rock-thrower, the devious computer hacker, the fast-talking rapper, the ultrafashionable Japanese teenager teetering on platform heels. Youth in these incarnations personify a given society's deepest anxieties and hopes about its own transformation. Such characterizations of youth are continually invoked within contemporary popular, political, and theoretical debates. Ironically, though, in many fields of academic research, the actual experiences of youth are not always considered important sites for developing theory and methodology and are seen as secondary in importance to the actions and imaginations of adults.

"Youthscapes"
The essays collected in this volume trace young people's movements across literal and imagined spaces, specifically analyzing the intersections between popular culture practices, national ideologies, and global markets. This is an undertheorized intersection in the existing literature in these three areas, but one that is vital for developing a new model for youth culture studies. The approach suggested by these chapters conceptualizes local youth practices as embedded, in both obvious and unexpected ways, within the shifts in national and global forces marking the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. This is what we mean in our title by a "youthscape." We use youthscape to suggest a site that is not just geographic or temporal but social and political as well, a "place" that is bound up with questions of power and materiality (Dirlik 2001/2002; Soja 1989). In this sense, we hope to push the agenda of youth culture studies in a direction that can account for some of the most pressing theoretical concerns in an era of globalization and born-again nationalisms, while also keeping our focus on the social and political implications of young people's responses as well as the methodological questions raised by our own regimes of observation. The metaphorical concept of youthscapes draws most directly from models of globalization, but in doing so it also lends itself to analysis of the related processes of nationalism and popular culture. The work on youth collected here links the three themes of the book's subtitle in various ways, in some cases, speaking directly to two of the issues while alluding to the third more implicitly. It is in the assemblage of these various perspectives across the different essays that a complex and rich youthscape emerges.

In his theory highlighting the cultural dimensions of globalization, Arjun Appadurai (1996) used the idea of a "scape" to account for the deeply perspectival and uneven character of the forces behind globalization. Ethnoscapes, technoscapes, financescapes, mediascapes and ideoscapes were the terms he introduced to describe dimensions of global cultural flows that are fluid and irregular, rather than fixed and finite. Ethnoscapes comprise the shifting circuits of people who animate a given social world; technoscapes draw attention to high-speed channels connecting previously distant territories; financescapes encompass new systems for accumulating and moving money, mediascapes refer to the dispersal of images and texts to small and vast audiences; and ideoscapes embody the "imagined worlds" produced through intersections between and among all of the above. Clearly we are taking some conceptual liberties in appropriating Appadurai's terminology, to the extent that youth is a social category that belongs to all five of his units of analysis. Young people participate in social relations; use and invent technology; earn, spend, need, desire, and despise money; comprise target markets while producing their own original media; and formulate modes of citizenship out of the various ideologies they create, sustain, and disrupt. Therefore we use the notion of a youthscape in the epistemological spirit of Appadurai's framework, while conceiving of youth as a shifting group of people that is simultaneously a deeply ideological category.

Appadurai's framework is, of course, just one way to theorize cultural globalization, which is itself a particular slice of the freewheeling debates about globalization in political, economic, and social realms and the one with which this book is particularly concerned, connecting as it does to the everyday cultural practices of youth. Globalization, for that matter, is also only one term, and a particularly broad and sometimes amorphous one, used by those concerned with thinking beyond nation-states—an interest that has produced concepts such as "diaspora" (Clifford 1997), "transnationalism" (Basch et al. 1994), and "cosmopolitanism" (Cheah & Robbins 1998). The rubric of diaspora has emerged most strongly as a pivot for theoretical work in the humanities, literary studies, and area studies, but has sometimes implicitly included in its definition an attachment, however imaginary, to an originary nation-state, a point of departure, rather than a place of residence. Theories of cosmopolitanism are generally more engaged with philosophical debates centered on humanist and universalist ideals, which remain bound up with questions of loyalty and allegiance, even when they include local and materialist perspectives (Clifford 1998, Robbins 1998). The notion of transnationalism emerged most clearly out of ethnographic work and by social scientists and immigration scholars (Basch et al. 1994) attempting to delineate concretely the social, economic, and political ties spanning two or more nation-states.

Overall, a wide range of conceptual and methodological tools have developed out of these perspectives to study the transnational social networks, cultural forms, economic strategies, and citizenship models emerging in official and everyday realms in response to the changing relationship between the nation-state and global capital (Basch et al. 1994; García Canclini 2001; Gupta and Ferguson 1997; Hall 1997; Hannerz 1996; Jameson and Miyoshi 1998; Massey 1994). Taking just a few examples from this vast and growing body of literature, theorists have offered notions of "flexible citizenship" (Ong 1999) and "discrepant cosmopolitanisms" (Cheah and Robbins 1998; Clifford 1998) and suggested research methods such as multisited ethnography to study the links between "local" everyday practices and "global" macro-forces (Buroway 2000; Marcus 1998). While distinct in terms of methodology as well as theoretical orientation, analyses tend to converge on a set of factors characterizing this particular era of globalization: for example, speed of real and virtual movement, a compressed sense of space, and newly permeable borders, which are, in some cases, also more heavily policed as a result of their greater porousness to flows of people, media, and commodities (Beynon and Dunkerley 2000; Harvey 1990).

This growing body of work on globalization, while highly relevant to studies of youth including those collected here, leaves key questions about an entire generation largely unanswered or in some cases, unconnected. How can youth studies offer new models or methods for studying border politics and commodity cultures in an era of global capitalism and changing patterns of coerced and voluntary migration? What might studying youth reveal about social identities being remade through transnational popular culture and new communication technologies in the context of debates about cultural authenticity, renewed nationalisms, and free-market relations? How is the category of youth reshaped in settings where young people are on the front-lines of wars within and between nations, or when particular groups of youth bear the brunt of violence, profiling, and incarceration by the state, and find themselves caught between various models of childhood and human rights that are often manipulated by state and non-governmental agencies for political and material ends? These are the kinds of questions that emerge when youth are recognized for their varied roles in this moment of globalization, as they move within and between territorialized nation-states while still remaining beholden to centralized sites of power and engaged within concrete, local life-worlds.

Youthscape, therefore, refers not just to a generational term but to a conceptual lens and methodological approach to youth culture, which brings together questions about popular culture and relations of power in local, national, and globalized contexts. In this sense, a youthscape is not a unit of analysis, as in Appadurai's framework of "scapes," but an approach that potentially revitalizes discussions about youth cultures and social movements while simultaneously theorizing the political and social uses of youth to maintain repressive systems of social control. We imagine the category of youth as a social achievement rather than a given psychological stage that children naturally pass through, en route to adulthood. It might seem counterintuitive to evoke achievement with respect to a category so often associated with delinquency by mainstream scholars, resistance by progressive and radical thinkers, and failure by researchers alarmed by apparent patterns of academic and moral decline (McDermott 1987; Varenne and McDermott 1999). Achievement does not necessarily mean a positive outcome, but it does connote a condition that is produced, over and over again, by various parties and institutions participating—whether they know it or not—in the concerted activity of producing youth. The actual practice of recognizing and treating a given subset of individuals as youth, a category associated with specific vulnerabilities, rights, desires, and dangers, entails considerable work and coordination. Relevant forces include, but are not limited to, parents, peers, schools, juvenile justice systems, social welfare and labor policies, military apparatuses, marketing schemes, and media and entertainment industries (Wyn and White 1997). When the process of achieving youth as a designation applied to certain bodies or groups is obscured or overlooked, it is all too easy to undertheorize the local and global practices—including apparently trivial microinteractions as well as heavily regulated institutionalized procedures—that render youth a viable cultural construction.

Our purpose in collecting the essays that follow is to take a step toward redressing the undertheorizing of youth as key players in dynamics surrounding the nation and globalization, who are both more and less than the familiar images of mass audience members, savvy consumers, junior citizens, and folk devils. Too often the field of youth culture studies itself is taken as the epistemological folk devil of academic knowledge production, the sensationalist sideshow that is simply an echo of the main act, or the site where extreme manifestations of widespread phenomena are vividly described. Youth culture practices are not simply handy examples, suggestive cases to note in passing, or celebratory testaments to popular culture's possibilities. Youth is, after all, often the ideological battleground in contests of immigration and citizenship as well as the prime consumer target for the leisure industry. Even when young people are not themselves traveling across national borders, or even leaving their own bedrooms, they can find themselves implicated within transnational networks. When mothers migrate across continents to look after other people's children, youth on both sides of that caregiving relationship are brought up within globalized networks for care and domestic work, whether by virtue of absence or presence, as well as the influx and expenditure of money (Parreñas 2001, see also Haney and Pollard 2003). While branches of the beauty and entertainment industries uphold youth as a repository of desire, young people themselves fuel those industries not simply by embodying and buying the message, but often by doing the service work to sell it, for salaries at or well below a living wage, while at the same time influencing, subverting, and otherwise transforming the products in circulation (Tannock 2000).

Youth, then, are at the center of globalization. However, rather than pushing for a rightful centering of youth studies in relation to an implicit margin, we argue that youth culture studies itself has much to teach us about the production of cultural centers or margins, about which bodies and which discourses are privileged, condemned or overlooked. "We need to learn from people and cultures that have been forced to make themselves as mobile, flexible, and fluid as transnational capital, yet still capable of drawing upon separate histories, principles and values," writes George Lipsitz (2001, 20) in his analysis of the present "dangerous moment" confronting American studies and cultural studies more broadly. YAnalyses of youthscapes reveals how youth are drawn into local practices, national ideologies and global markets while always occupying an ambiguous space within and between them. For instance, Murray Forman, in this volume, writes of the lives of refugee youth who have fled war-torn nations to resettle in the U.S. or Canada, where state and school authorities attempt to "suture" them into civic and national communities, a process that highlights the contradictions at the heart of racial and national ideologies in North America and one that these youth actively renegotiate on a daily basis. All the essays in this volume, in fact, address in one way or another the shape and meaning of this "suturing" process—and the tensions or renegotiations it entails—between local, national, and transnational communities in the lives of youth. As such, this book contributes to work on transnationalism, immigration, and cosmopolitanism that has not adequately addressed questions about youth. In the sections that follow, we identify new directions for theory, research and analysis that emerge when youth culture studies is juxtaposed with the three strands of the book—globalization, national ideologies, and popular culture—and conclude with a reflection on the collection's methodological interventions and thematic organization.

Youth Culture and Globalization
Clearly, there is a large and growing body of work that deals with culture and globalization, and many of the shifts in cultural processes that are discussed in this literature shape the lives of, if they are not partly produced by, youth in various local and national contexts. Here, we are not attempting to provide a comprehensive overview of the debates about cultural globalization, a task that would be beyond the scope of a short essay, and one that is already the subject of many book-length works. Instead, we do want to allude to the ways in which questions about youth culture shed light on some of the key tensions in studies of cultural globalization, such as issues of cultural diffusion versus localization (Hannerz 1996), unidirectional versus multidirectional flows of culture, and the framing of cosmopolitanism as privileged physical and imaginary mobility versus coerced displacement (Cheah and Robbins 1998, Ong 1999). Issues of youth culture seep into these studies by way of their attent...

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