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

Telling Young Lives: Portraits of Global Youth

Craig Jeffrey
Jane Dyson
Copyright Date: 2008
Published by: Temple University Press
  • Cite this Item
  • Book Info
    Telling Young Lives
    Book Description:

    Telling Young Livespresents more than a dozen fascinating, ethnograph-ically informed portraits of young people facing rapid changes in society and politics from different parts of the world. From a young woman engaged in agricultural labor in the High Himalayas to a youth activist based in Tanzania, the distinctive voices from the U.K., India, Germany, Sierra Leone, South Africa and Bosnia Herzegovina, provide insights into the active and creative ways these youths are addressing social and political challenges such as war, hunger and homelessness.

    Telling Young Liveshas great appeal for classroom use in geography courses and makes a welcome contribution to the growing field of "young geographies," as well as to politics and political geography. Its focus on individual portraits gives readers a fuller, more vivid picture of the ways in which global changes are reshaping the actual experiences and strategies of young people around the world.

    eISBN: 978-1-59213-932-3
    Subjects: Sociology, Population Studies, Anthropology

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Foreword
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Katharyne Mitchell

    In recent years there has been a revival of interest in scholarship that can reach beyond the confines of the academy. From the new “public sociologies” movement, to the debates in medicine and the natural sciences, to public humanities programs springing up around the country, it is evident that many scholars desire a stronger engagement with the world outside of the university.

    The reasons for this renewed interest are not difficult to fathom. Over the past two decades the policies and practices associated with neoliberal globalization have exacerbated economic inequities and social disruptions in many parts of the globe, as...

  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-xii)
  5. 1 Introduction
    (pp. 1-14)
    Craig Jeffrey and Jane Dyson

    Global social and economic change is rapidly altering people’s experience of youth. Widespread unemployment, new health risks, and political conflict are reshaping the social landscape in which children and young people grow up. At the same time, governments, nongovernmental organizations (NGOs), and the media are centrally concerned with disciplining youth, for example, through the circulation of negative images of young people.

    An important achievement of recent human geographic, anthropological, and sociological work has been to show that young people are not passive in the face of these threats to their livelihoods and self-respect; they actively and creatively shape the world...

  6. 2 Saka: Growing Up in the Indian Himalayas
    (pp. 15-26)
    Jane Dyson

    I first met Saka on a cold winter’s evening in 2003 inside her family’s one-room house. The room was dark; Saka’s face was only occasionally visible by the light of the flickering cooking fire. Behind her, I could hear, but not see, the livestock that also shared the room, the two cows, two bulls, and a buffalo that quietly shuffled and snorted as they chewed on their nighttime hay. Although the sun had long since set, it was considerably lighter outside. The snow of the surrounding Himalayan peaks reflected the light of the moon so that the forests on the...

  7. 3 “All My Life, I’ve Bounced Around”: A Portrait of Blacc
    (pp. 27-39)
    Kristina Gibson

    When you take the A train from Manhattan to the eastern-most reaches of New York City, you have a one-in-three chance of ending up in Far Rockaway, the town where Blacc was born. Winding along metal rails set high above the neighborhoods, the A train takes you over a seemingly endless landscape of brick houses, rusting gas stations, and weed-filled cemeteries. Eventually the tracks split like a twisted trident, with one prong veering off toward the Atlantic Ocean and the Rockaway Peninsula. Perched on the far edge of New York City, wedged between the flat, grey waters of the ocean...

  8. 4 Vusi Majola: “Walking Until the Shoes Is Finished”
    (pp. 40-55)
    Paula Meth

    Vusi was one of twenty men who participated in my “Men, Violence, and Methodology” research project carried out in Durban, South Africa, during 2006–2007 by my research assistant Sibongile Maphumulo. Vusi’s story told below is an assemblage of a detailed and emotive solicited diary he wrote over a four-week period, an extensive life history interview, and a series of photographs he took to illustrate his diary entries. His words are delivered through Maphumulo’s translative voice and his story told through my narrative voice.

    Two themes run through Vusi’s life story. The first is a prolonging of “youth” as a...

  9. 5 Young, White, Male, and Working Class: A Portrait of Richard
    (pp. 56-68)
    Linda McDowell

    I had arranged to meet Richard outside a McDonald’s in the Meadowhall shopping center in Sheffield, England: a large mall designed as the simulacrum of a Tuscan hill town. It was a cool blustery day and Richard phoned me to say his shift was late clocking off. As I waited for him, I watched a stream of young people pass by, with and without friends, some pushing buggies, all of them looking harassed. I thought about the life chances of young people growing up in a de-industrializing northern city where life was still hard for the working class.I was there...

  10. 6 Young, Male, Scottish, and Muslim: A Portrait of Kabir
    (pp. 69-80)
    Peter Hopkins

    Kabir and I first arranged to meet on 12 December 2002 at the central mosque in Edinburgh, close to the University of Edinburgh where he was enrolled as a student. I had contacted the mosque to request their assistance in finding potential participants for a research project I was conducting on the geographies, identities, and everyday lives of young Muslim men living in Scotland. Kabir was one of the young men who made contact with me after hearing about the project. At the time of our first discussion he was eighteen years old. Kabir’s father was born in Kenya, the...

  11. 7 Politics, Lifestyle, and Identity: The Story of Sven, Eastern Germany
    (pp. 81-96)
    Kathrin Horschelmann

    Sven was a fifteen-year-old boy who participated in a research project conducted by myself and Nadine Schäfer in the eastern German city of Leipzig (Saxony) in 2003.¹ He was one of five participants in a group we interviewed over a period of five weeks. The group met once a week and discussed a range of issues centred on globalization, identity, and youth culture. We explored how important friends, family, and locality were in the young people’s lives, how their leisure interests connected with global flows of culture, and to what extent their current cultural activities intersected with concerns about future...

  12. 8 “Each and Every Single Story About Me… There’s Like a Huge Twist to It”: Growing Up at Risk in the United States—A Portrait of Mike
    (pp. 97-112)
    Sean Crotty, Christopher Moreno and Stuart Aitken

    Mike is seventeen. He is handsome, with a sharp wit and a sense of humor that can light up a room. Mike’s mother, Debbie, was a drug addict when he was born and for the first eight years of his life. His father left when Mike was two years old and he has not seen him since. Debbie is now in her ninth year of recovery from twenty-four years of alcohol and methamphetamine addiction. As young children, Mike and his older brother suffered from severe neglect, and when adults were present there was often physical and emotional abuse. The family...

  13. 9 Zilho’s Journeys: Displacement and Return in Bosnia-Herzegovina
    (pp. 113-122)
    Alex Jeffrey

    From a glance at the urban landscape of central Brčko, a town in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina (hereafter Bosnia), there is little physical sign that it was a site of conflict a little more than ten years ago. On warm summer evenings children play on miniature motorized cars on the pedestrianized main street, groups of young people sit in the many cafes that line the pavements, and live music drifts out of the doors of the large Hotel Posavina. It is on the veranda of the hotel in 2003 that I sat talking to Petar Mihajlović, a youth representative of the nationalist...

  14. 10 Rocks: A Portrait of Mohammed
    (pp. 123-135)
    Danny Hoffman

    Mohammed breaks rocks. It is “work” only in that it fills his days and demands much of his slender body. Smashing stone into gravel with a small hammer is one of the tasks Mohammed performs for the right to remain a squatter, a caretaker of someone else’s land. What money Mohammed has comes in other unreliable and hard-won ways: hustling on the streets of Freetown; performing odd jobs for mechanics or welders; or, his most lucrative activity these days, runningdjamba[marijuana] to the Liberian border. My own visits to Freetown are sporadic and unannounced, but when they mean Mohammed...

  15. 11 From Footballs to Fixer: Suresh and the New Politicians in North India
    (pp. 136-147)
    Craig Jeffrey

    In March 2005, I was walking around Chaudhry Charan Singh University (CCSU) in Meerut City, Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), searching for a young man called Suresh. I had been told that Suresh was an especially energetic student politician, one of a small group of Dalit (ex-untouchable) “new leaders” (naye netās) on campus. I was interviewing these new politicians as part of a research project on student activism in north India. Students sometimes used the term “new politician” semihumorously to mock the aspirations of ambitious young men, but they often employed the term more seriously to indicate men who circulated political rhetoric...

  16. 12 Telling Nala’s Story: Negotiating the Global Agendas and Local Politics of Maasai Development in Tanzania
    (pp. 148-163)
    Benjamin Gardner

    As a sixteen-year-old girl Nala helped organize Maasai women into literacy and economic support groups. In her twenties, Nala founded the Maasai Women’s Forum (MWF), a grassroots organization working for Maasai women’s development.² Today, Nala is almost thirty-six and MWF is a thriving organization with over thirty chapters and nine hundred active members. During my ethnographic research on Maasai youth, land, and development in Tanzania from 2000 to 2004,³ Maasai leaders and community members regularly indicated that MWF was one of the most important pastoralist organizations in Tanzania.⁴ As one village chairman put it, “All NGOs [nongovernmental organizations] in [this...

  17. 13 Darkest Whiteness: Race, Class, and Culture in Global Times: A Portrait of Helena
    (pp. 164-173)
    Anoop Nayak

    Helena is a white, seventeen-year-old young woman. She has blue eyes, blonde hair, and for most of her life has lived in Lillehammer, Norway, with her Nordic mother and English father. When I met Helena, she was living away from home in the United Kingdom with just her English grandmother for company. I first got to know Helena when conducting a neighborhood ethnography investigating how the lives of new generations were being recast in the light of deindustrialization and global change. A prominent theme in this work was the question of what it meant to be young, white, and working...

  18. 14 Young, Deaf, and Lesbian: A Portrait of Susannah
    (pp. 174-192)
    Tracey Skelton

    Susannah was born in 1978 in a northern England industrial city.¹ The city and its region at that time was experiencing economic decline which continued through to the early 1990s. Manufacturing in textiles—a mainstay of its economy—was either lost or moved to overseas centers of production. Unemployment levels were climbing and infrastructure support declining as the social costs of unemployment began to bite into the budgets of local authorities. Once the Conservatives were elected under Margaret Thatcher, cuts into public-sector provision deepened and the cost of living rose due to very high interest rates. The 1980s were a...

  19. 15 Afterword: Global Portraits and Local Snapshots
    (pp. 193-208)
    Chris Philo and Kate Swanson

    I was born in the late eighties, told that the Iraqi Iranian war ended while I was too young to even remember anything, played for a while in the street then joined primary school, I was good there, good grades like most of the pupils, we studied a lot about Saddam, the Ba’ath, the revolution, as young pupils, we didn’t care so much, we didn’t talk about it that much either, then came high school, where I had the most fun in my life…. [Then] what came along this simple life that I lived, was as far as I recall,...

  20. About the Contributors
    (pp. 209-212)
  21. Index
    (pp. 213-220)