Skip to Main Content
Have library access? Log in through your library

Youthscapes: The Popular, the National, the Global

Sunaina Maira
Elisabeth Soep
Foreword by George Lipsitz
Copyright Date: 2005
Pages: 296
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Book Description:

    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.

    eISBN: 978-0-8122-0567-1
    Subjects: Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword: Midnight’s Children: Youth Culture in the Age of Globalization
    (pp. vii-xiv)
    George Lipsitz

    Joy de la Cruz died in a car crash on a Nevada highway on October 6, 2003. She was only twenty-five years old. A much-admired spoken-word performer and feminist activist, her brilliant potential will now never be realized fully. She grew up as part of the first truly transnational generation of youth, an immigrant daughter whose first language was Tagalog. For those of us who knew her in San Diego where she went to college or in the San Francisco Bay Area where she was raised, Joy was our “morning star”—a planet that burns so brightly in the eastern...

  4. Introduction
    (pp. xv-xxxvi)
    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” (S. Cohen 1972): the gun-toting high-schooler, the Palestinian rock-thrower, the devious computer hacker, the fast-talking rapper, the ultra-fashionable 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...

  5. Part I. Documents and Tags

    • Chapter 1 Straight Outta Mogadishu: Prescribed Identities and Performative Practices Among Somali Youth in North American High Schools
      (pp. 3-22)
      Murray Forman

      I open with a research anecdote: while explaining his school’s daily operations and the “work” of engaging youth in their education and school life, a public high school principal quietly lamented the fact that his school was acquiring a local reputation as “a dumping ground” for the immigrant and refugee children spilling into the city.¹ He rattled off a list of global hot spots, places rife with civil war, civic unrest, and from which vast swaths of the populations desperately sought escape, noting with a shrug of resignation that teenagers from these countries would eventually end up at the door...

    • Chapter 2 Gangs and Their Walls
      (pp. 23-42)
      Ralph Cintron

      More than twenty years ago while walking through a Mexican American neighborhood somewhere in San Antonio, Texas, a good friend and I passed by a house whose front yard had become a cluttered gallery of homemade concrete folk art. Scattered within this fantastic scene were real mesquite trees, shrubs, vines, a dwarf tree or two, and potted plants and flowers. Narrow paths tried to make their way through the clutter but were soon defeated. The lot was small, but oh so intense. The clutter wrapped around both sides of the house to create an even bigger heap of the back...

    • Chapter 3 Race Bending: “Mixed” Youth Practicing Strategic Racialization in California
      (pp. 43-63)
      Mica Pollock

      At the turn of the twenty-first century, more and more U.S. residents are becoming versed in the twentieth-century anthropological deconstruction of biological race groups as human-made “myth.”¹ Popular magazines occasionally tackle the very concept of “race,” reminding readers that the nation’s “racial groups” are more genetically diverse within than between themselves (see Newsweek 2000). The American Anthropological Association has launched a new public education program contesting biological notions of “so-called racial” difference (AAA 1998) and it has now become almost routine in U.S. academic discourse to call racial difference a “social construction.” Indeed, contesting the very existence of “racial” difference...

    • Chapter 4 The Intimate and the Imperial: South Asian Muslim Immigrant Youth After 9/11
      (pp. 64-82)
      Sunaina Maira

      In ethnic studies as well as in American studies (and the two fields increasingly intersect), an interest in globalization has stimulated a more transnational or comparative perspective that forces attention to the ways in which forms of culture, community, and subjectivity spill over national borders. Young people are often held up as compelling examples of how individuals increasingly shape forms of culture, community, and subjectivity in relation to two or more nation-states, or beyond nation or state altogether. Yet there is still a cautious acknowledgment that nationalist identities and territorialized nation-states play a powerful role in the lives of presumably...

  6. Part II. Movements and Outbreaks

    • Chapter 5 The Amway Connection: How Transnational Ideas of Beauty and Money Affect Northern Thai Girls’ Perceptions of Their Future Options
      (pp. 85-102)
      Ida Fadzillah

      The examination of women and work in Southeast Asia has a long history in the field of cultural anthropology.¹ In Thailand, much of this literature has focused on farmers and factory workers, and also on work and beauty as it relates to the prostitution industry.² Studies of Thai women and beauty have thus tended to present the relationship between women, beauty, and money as merging in only one venue: sex work. While this model is accurate in some respects, it ignores the experiences of the majority of Thai women, creating a scenario in which the only relationship between money and...

    • Chapter 6 Homies Unidos: International Barrio Warriors Waging Peace on Two Fronts
      (pp. 103-118)
      GusTavo Adolfo Guerra Vásquez

      In El Salvador, gangs resembling L.A. gangs, in their use of names, clothing, and other cultural symbols, began to make front-page news during the mid-1990s. The country’s two main newspapers published sensationalistic accounts filled with rumor and speculation that did not help the situation on the street and only fed the violence between rival gangs. This type of reporting also fostered the public perception that “U.S. deportees and marginal youth are the principal perpetrators of violent crime” (DeCesare, 1998, 24). Sensationalistic reports regarding gang-involved youth in El Salvador are not only recorded in written form but also emerge in visual...

    • Chapter 7 Globalizing Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone
      (pp. 119-134)
      Susan Shepler

      The war that raged in Sierra Leone throughout the 1990s is often understood as a crisis of youth.¹ Although inequitable access to mineral resources and years of corrupt government must play an important part in any explanation, it was legions of youth with no hopes for education or employment who carried the guns and committed the atrocities that have become the hallmark of this particularly brutal civil war. The stories are similar: children are abducted, forced to commit atrocities, caught between the innocence of youth and the horror of war. A typical characterization of the war in Sierra Leone in...

  7. Part III. Icons and Retakes

    • Chapter 8 “Jackie Chan Is Nobody, and So Am I”: Juvenile Fan Culture and the Construction of Transnational Male Identity in the Tamil Diaspora
      (pp. 137-154)
      Alexandra Schneider

      Upon leaving school at age sixteen, Mani (a pseudonym), the Tamil foster child of my neighbors in Zurich, Switzerland, was asked to write a twenty-five-page graduation paper. The topic of his choice was Jackie Chan, the Hong Kong movie star. I remember well how some years earlier, Mani, who was then still living in a foster home three hours away by car from his foster parents, first began to tell us about Jackie Chan. Previously, his idol had been Jean-Claude van Damme, and we—Mani’s foster parents and their friends—were secretly relieved by this switch of allegiance. Compared with...

    • Chapter 9 Authenticating Practices: Producing Realness, Performing Youth
      (pp. 155-172)
      Nicole R. Fleetwood

      We were at the center—the hub—of the digital revolution, but, at times, our presence alone acknowledged our marginalization from the digital economy that had taken over the San Francisco Bay Area. Our small group of youth and adult educators, organized by the Media Education Center (MEC), a community-based media production organization located in the San Francisco Bay Area, was embarking on an intensive project that would result in a short narrative video about youth life in San Francisco’s Mission District. The Mission District, a historically working-class Latino neighborhood, has been reshaped in recent years by an influx of...

    • Chapter 10 Making Hard-Core Masculinity: Teenage Boys Playing House
      (pp. 173-191)
      Elisabeth Soep

      The first thing you might notice in Aaron’s mom’s basement is an impressive collection of sports trophies displaying shiny figures frozen in athletic gestures. The poses on those pedestals are somehow both manly and delicate. On a Thursday night in the summer of 1998, Aaron and four buddies gathered amid the trophies while waiting for some pizza to arrive. World Wrestling Federation blared from the TV, and occasionally the guys interrupted what they were doing to comment on the match. “Hey, Mom, how was work?” Aaron asked, greeting his mom warmly when she showed up around eight o’clock. Mrs. Davis...

    • Chapter 11 Bad Boys: Abstractions of Difference and the Politics of Youth “Deviance”
      (pp. 192-214)
      Todd R. Ramlow

      As in common homophobic discourse, the object of devaluation and intolerance in discourses of disability is seemingly erased in the phobic utterance. Phrases like “That’s so gay” and “That’s retarded” are used colloquially to indicate that an object or event is senseless or silly. These speech acts become so routinely abstracted that those who perform and witness them lose sight of the real gay and disabled people whose very lives are overcoded with negative social and individual value by such idiomatic usage. There is, then, a metaphorics to the discourses and social processes of both “erotophobia” and “stigmaphobia” in which...

  8. List of Contributors
    (pp. 215-218)
  9. Notes
    (pp. 219-232)
  10. References
    (pp. 233-254)
  11. Index
    (pp. 255-258)
  12. Acknowledgments
    (pp. 259-259)