The Popular, the National, the Global
Edited by Sunaina Maira and Elisabeth Soep. Foreword by George Lipsitz
2004 | 296 pages | Cloth $69.95 | Paper $24.95
Anthropology | Cultural Studies
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Table of Contents
—Sunaina Maira and Elisabeth Soep
PART I. DOCUMENTS AND TAGS
1. Straight Outta Mogadishu: Prescribed Identities and Performative Practices Among Somali Youth in North American High Schools
2. Gangs and Their Walls
3. Race Bending: "Mixed" Youth Practicing Strategic Racialization in California
4. The Intimate and the Imperial: South Asian Muslim Immigrant Youth After 9/11
PART II. MOVEMENTS AND OUTBREAKS
5. The Amway Connection: How Transnational Ideas of Beauty and Money Affect Northern Thai Girls' Perceptions of Their Future Options
6. Homies Unidos: International Barrio Warriors Waging Peace on Two Fronts
—Gustavo Adolfo Guerra Vásquez
7. Globalizing Child Soldiers in Sierra Leone
PART III. ICONS AND RETAKES
8. "Jackie Chan Is Nobody, and So Am I": Juvenile Fan Culture and the Construction of Transnational Male Identity in the Tamil Diaspora
9. Authenticating Practices: Producing Realness, Performing Youth
—Nicole R. Fleetwood
10. Making Hard-Core Masculinity: Teenage Boys Playing House
11. Bad Boys: Abstractions of Difference and the Politics of Youth "Deviance"
—Tidd R. Ramlow
List of Contributors
Excerpt [uncorrected, not for citation]
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.
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 attention to popular culture, media, and cultural change. We have found, however, that there is much less focus directly on youth per se, and particularly on the ways young people themselves understand or grapple with globalization. For example, the recent edited volume The Anthropology of Globalization (Inda & Rosaldo 2002), an important contribution to the literature on globalization, only has two chapters (Gross, McMurray, and Swedenburg 2002; Ong 2002) that explicitly address either youth or youth cultures. Some might suggest that searching for the presence or absence of young people may harden an arbitrary boundary around youth who are after all constantly implicated in discussions of modernity, migration, and cultural flows. However, we would argue that assuming youth are present, even in their absence, in these discussions actually allows youth to constantly be yoked to the ideology of progress and change, reinscribing rather than deconstructing the very social and state processes that produce youth as a marginal category of actors.
Youth culture studies, for its part, certainly has a strong tradition in materialist analysis, crystallized most clearly—if not unproblematically—in the analyses of the Birmingham school theorists of youth subcultures. More recent work in youth culture studies that is transnational in scope adds to this strong foundation on which youth researchers interested in globalization can build. Cool Places (Skelton & Valentine 1998) is a collection of essays using conceptual tools from the field of cultural geography to study young people's local practices in sites around the world. In Youth Cultures: A Cross-Cultural Perspective (1995), Vered Amit-Talai and Helena Wulff take an anthropological approach, arguing that an ethnographic focus on the lived experiences of youth is necessary to advance theoretical debates. Jonathon Epstein's introduction to Youth Culture: Identity in a Postmodern World (1998), reconsiders the sociological concept of alienation attached to "Generation X" in a collection including several essays focused on youth subcultures in their encounters with global media and music. Even a U.S.-based historical anthology such as Generations of Youth (Austin and Willard 1998), offers a global perspective to the extent that a few of the essays do account for the ways in which diasporic communities have helped contribute to what are recognized as U.S. youth cultures. Because of popular culture's imbrication with global processes of production and consumption, it is apparent that a transnational context is often at least implicit within youth culture studies, and in fact some may argue that youth culture scholars have been studying globalization for years. At the same time, though, much of this work has remained wedded to a local or national frame of reference, or has undertheorized the specific processes whereby global currents help shape regional and national contexts as well as ethnic and racialized identities.
Given that there seem to be strong substantive and theoretical linkages between youth culture and globalization studies, why have these two fields seemingly evaded each other for so long? Why have scholars of globalization not taken on questions of youth culture more seriously, and flipping the question over, why have not more youth culture scholars theorized globalization? We speculate that a partial answer lies in the social meanings attached to youth, an association that seems doggedly to follow youth across various national contexts, even historical periods, and that is both part of the cultural construction of youth and a reason why they are not taken seriously by scholars of globalization. The most salient, and troublesome, of these social meanings is the portrayal of youth as inadequately formed adults, as subjects lacking in the presumably desired qualities of adulthood, rather than as subjects in their own right with specific (even if they are not always unique) needs and concerns. Much work on globalization and transnationalism has tended to focus largely or explicitly only on adults, and youth are assumed to be incomplete social actors, or subjects less able to exert the agency in the face of globalization that some scholars are, understandably, eager to document. To be sure, youth are engaged in an ongoing process of social and cognitive development and do, in fact, acquire more rights and responsibilities as they move into adulthood. However, there is often an assumption in traditional work on youth and citizenship, for example, that young citizens—to the extent that they have rights, which are often limited—must be socialized into adult norms of political involvement rather than being thinking agents who may express important critiques of citizenship and nationhood (Buckingham 2000, 13).
Yet developmental assumptions about youth are embedded in a broader theoretical framework that actually hinges youth culture analyses in interesting ways to the study of globalization, and in fact, throws into relief the ways in which the two fields share some key paradigms—in particular, a problematic logic of development. Research on adolescence, particularly in the field of psychology but also in anthropology, has generally assumed a stage-based model of youth, and of identity; in fact, this approach assumes that identity is the exemplary question associated with youth, as in the classic identity development theory of Erik Erikson (1968) that posits adolescence as a moment of identity crisis. In the theories of identity development inspired by this approach—many of which have not questioned their own cultural specificity—development is, if not a linear, at least a teleological process. Erikson granted that adults may return to earlier crises not fully resolved at the appropriate "stage," since his theory proposed an epigenetic model of development, but there is still at least an implicit tenet that youth are proceeding toward a desirable end-goal, which is to be realized only and always in adulthood.
Globalization, too, is often framed in the context of arguments about "progress," resting on assumptions of development of a different sort; even if these arguments are discussing economic and political, and not psychological, development, they still are embroiled in debates about the desired end-goals. By now, of course, most scholars concede that globalization is not a linear process but inherently and deeply uneven. However, while some critics say that the notion of globalization as development is acknowledged as an undeniable failure on the levels of both metanarrative and concrete social policy, an ideology of development is clearly alive and well in many places around the world, in particular as applied to those experiencing economic expansion (Ferguson 2002, 145). Our point here is not to overstate the homology between youth as maturation and globalization as development but to argue for the ways in which the processes of both youth and globalization need to be considered together, always with an effort to avoid the tendency to frame the two as stages or moments along a forward-moving continuum. The flows of people, goods, capital, and media images across national borders are embedded in, and produce, social and material inequalities that in turn drive further immigration and displacement. Youth are necessarily caught in this loop, in this movement of people and the mobilization for justice and equity, and in this cycle of production and consumption.
Clearly, youth display a wide range of responses to globalization, and the book itself offers examples of youth who want to benefit from globalization, and who do so in some spheres of their lives even as some are also positioned as marginal workers in places where globalization's inequities are deeply apparent. Perhaps the most publicized response by youth to globalization was the spectacle in the U.S. mass media of the 1999 blockage of the World Trade Organization meetings in Seattle, Washington. Coverage of those events revealed a striking ambivalence that goes to the heart of the duality projected onto youth: the suspicion that young people are not mature citizens who can act effectively, and simultaneously, the fear that they are actually citizens with the power to effect change that some may not desire (Shepard and Hayduk 2002). This kind of deep social ambivalence has, of course, long existed as moral panics about youth (Cohen 1972). Without veering into a functionalist analysis, it might be safe to say that these panics are projected onto young people because of the association of youth with liminality, in anthropological terms, so that societies both reject those who critique their norms as "deviant" but also tolerate, and even incorporate, them as citizens existing somewhere between one space or status and another (Dannin 2002, 16).
Citizenship and Consumption
The construction of youth as a "transitional" category of citizenship reveals the role of the state in defining youth and points to what Philip Mizen calls "the importance of age to the political management of social relations" by the state (2002, 6). "Liminality," in this view, is not to be taken for granted nor is the very notion of "age" or the process of "growing up" under various economic systems. The notion of "youth-as-transition" is not only culturally constructed but also necessary to the division of labor and the hierarchy of material relations specific to various forms of the capitalist state. In the shift from the welfare state to the privatization of state services in Britain, Mizen argues that youth remains important as a category that is part of the broader age-graded relations that underpin systems of labor, education, criminal justice, taxation, property, marriage, and family, and this is certainly true in other state models around the globe as well. Such a perspective on youth implicitly draws on a Foucauldian analysis of how "age provides a precise method of calibration for state administrative practices as the means to define subordinate populations in order to effect their control" (Mizen 2002, 12). At the same time, the state is constituted not of an abstract or static disciplinary power but of social relations and of people's imaginings of the state as being powerful, necessary, limited, irrelevant, or disruptive. Young people, too, imagine the state in all these ways, in the contexts of schooling, immigration, policing, social services, or the prison system. As Thomas Hansen and Finn Steputat observe, ethnographies of the state show "how the state tries to make itself real and tangible through symbols, texts, and iconography" and examine its "everyday and localized forms" that may move "beyond the state's own prose, categories, and perspective" (2001, 5). Maira's study, in this volume, of South Asian Muslim youth in Cambridge, for example, focuses on how young working-class immigrants grapple with the limitations and opportunities of two or more nation-states in their transition to the U.S., particularly in a post-9/11 moment where they are the target of the state's domestic, as well as foreign, "war on terror" and its accompanying program of detention, deportation, and surveillance. At the same time, they desire the economic and political benefits they believe citizenship offers as legal and material protection from the state's own disciplining and terrorizing policies.
Theorists of citizenship point to the emergence of the model of the citizen as consumer with the increasing privatization of services previously offered by the welfare state; liberal conceptions of individualized citizenship mesh well with the notion of individualized consumption in capitalist democracy (Miller 2001, 129-130; see also Giroux 2000). This is apparent in the ways in which popular culture functions as an arena in which individual consumer-citizen identites are constructed, a process clearly applicable to youth as they grapple with the meanings of the state and citizenship in their everyday lives, for if they are supposedly alienated from traditional, public forms of political participation, so is the vast majority of the populace in a country such as the United States. Nestór García Canclini argues that "for many men and women, especially youth, the questions specific to citizenship, such as how we inform ourselves and who represents our interests, are answered more often than not through private consumption of commodities and media offerings than through the abstract rules of democracy or through participation in discredited legal organizations" (2001, 5).
The essays in this volume, therefore, all explore in different and often nuanced ways the tensions that young people experience between their identities as citizens and as consumers, and the politics associated with both locations. In northern Thailand, for example, Ida Fadzillah finds that young women are recruited by multinational corporations, such as Amway, to sell beauty products that are perceived as opening up a world of mobility and autonomy, in contrast to Thai-produced commodities and village marketplaces that affirm a certain cultural nationalism in the face of shifts in labor and consumption. In a different vein, Nicole Fleetwood examines how youth media producers both recreate and contest ideologies of "realness" projected onto urban, racialized, U.S. youth by activist video projects as well as a film and music industry that is increasingly globalized. Youth often enter the discussion of globalization only as consumers in a global marketplace, but it is clear to those observing carefully on the ground that, as cultural producers and members of a global labor force, youth are also always helping to manufacture and distribute consumer products while actively negotiating their circulation within complex media worlds (Ginsburg, Abu-Lughod, and Larkin 2002). Approaching these processes from a variety of angles, the essays in this volume all raise the question, in one form or the other: what is at stake for youth in this tension between consumption and citizenship?
García Canclini suggests that we need to be more attuned to the new forms that citizenship takes in an era where relations of social belonging are "steeped in consumption," acknowledging the ways in which young people, among other social actors, may express political motivations or aspirations through their use of the media rather than assuming, a priori, that the space of consumption is opposed to that of citizenship (2001, 20; see also McRobbie 1994). Yet García Canclini remains critical of the limits of a liberal model of citizenship and of the need for the privatized state to produce consumers through technologies of governmentality, civic virtue, and individual self-interest, rather than of communitarian self-making (see also Miller 1993). He suggests, in fact, that the sociality associated with consumption needs to be harnessed to activate a progressive model of citizenship that aims "to reform the state," "to reconceptualize the public sphere," and to realize "the right to participate in the remaking of the system, that is, to redefine the very arrangement in which we desire to be included" (21, 154-155).
This challenge—of how to work in and through popular culture toward a transformative politics on local, national, and global scales that would connect the cultural to the material—is taken up by several of the essays in this volume. Alexandra Schneider uses a case study of a Tamil refugee boy adopted by a Swiss family to show how his fan relationship with Jackie Chan, the Hong Kong film icon, and his own film production help him mediate between ideologies of race, nationalism, and masculinity. Gustavo Guerra Vásquez' research on Salvadoran gang-involved youth in both Los Angeles and El Salvador shows how the youth-led organization, Homies Unidos, not only recognizes the transnational migration flows that link youth in both nations but also draws on the production of cultural commodities to respond to the criminalization of Latino youth in California and the scapegoating of Salvadoran American youth in El Salvador. There is, arguably, a new form of youth citizenship emerging here, one that crosses national borders to link processes of cultural consumption and migration to a critique of state-sponsored violence and detention. Susan Shepler uses her ethnographic research to argue that child soldiers in Sierra Leone are caught between models of "innocent" childhood imported by nongovernmental organizations and United Nations programs, which are working to rehabilitate youth in a post-civil war society, and local notions of youth. Her essay highlights the responses of youth themselves to violence, images of masculinity, and global commodity culture and their strategic uses of popular culture and public discourse about children's rights. All three of these essays, and others in the book, suggest the potential limits of cosmopolitanism for youth who know only too well that the specificity of national and local ideologies and practices of governmentality require equally specific—if also disruptive—models of citizenship, affiliation, and community. It is also apparent that there is a range of arguments about the meanings of globalization or cosmopolitanism for youth in the work featured here, and that a "youthscapes" approach does not imply a formulaic analysis.
Youth Cultures and National Ideologies
The cosmopolitan or transnational imaginaries of youth culture are always in dialectical tension with both national ideologies and local affiliations. In fact, the new research featured here demonstrates the ways in which youth produce localized understandings of national ideologies as well as state policies. Mica Pollock, for example, offers a critique of federal and state policies that call for "colorblindness" based on her study of everyday racial practice in an urban U.S. high school, where students use race labels to expose inequality even as they call into question the very existence of racial categories. Authors throughout the volume confront the question of when youth respond to a shared social condition as a form of politics, and what politics would or does mean for them in specific contexts. In many cases, it is apparent that youth respond to national ideologies in ways that may not be considered traditionally "political" but that are critical, even when these youth are considered to be nationalism's "other" and are targeted as such by the state, as in Maira's research on South Asian Muslim immigrant youth in post-9/11 Cambridge, Massachusetts. The anti-immigrant sentiment in the U.S. has centered on new targets of suspicion, namely, young Muslim or Arab American men or those presumed to belong to these groups. However, the surveillance and detention policies consolidated in the name of the "war on terror" at the present moment are part of a continuum of state measures that had previously been developed in response to what has been described as an "invasion" of immigrant "hordes" from the Caribbean, Latin America, and Asia, and a growing bilingual, multiracial population—not to mention similar anxieties about immigration in Western Europe since the 1990s. It is important to situate the "new racism" directed at Muslim or Arab American youth in the context of the history of ongoing racial profiling, surveillance, and detention of other youth of color in the U.S., and the ways in which those practices have historically secured a national consensus around a particular definition of citizenship. To do so means examining how domains are constructed as "public" or "private" realms of expression and exploring how state and foreign policies work in conjunction with cultural discourses and practices in different national contexts.
Clearly, many young people are ambivalent about the nation-state—and in many cases, more specifically, the state—though renewed nationalisms after 9/11 may have changed this for some—but they still draw on nationalism as a resource or model. The chapter by Ralph Cintron describes how gang-involved Latino youth in "Angels' Town" strategically recreate the structure of the nation-state in what he calls a "shadow system," within the syntax and visual production of street gangs, which Cintron considers a potentially subaltern counterpublic sphere. This mimicry of nationalism, organizationally or discursively, is an important point to juxtapose with the progressive impulses of youth movements that many of the essays in this volume seem to point to, for the face of the nation is often reflected or reworked in the forms of collective identity that young people produce. Cintron's essay suggests that the discourse or topos of nationhood remains potent for youth because of its narrative power, much as Bhabha (1990) has argued, to provide stories of cohesion, stability, and hierarchy.
In some of the essays here, it becomes apparent that discourses about masculinity or femininity often seep into the stories about nationhood or collective culture; gender and nationalism are of course deeply interconnected, and youth cultures are no exception to this larger phenomenon. Studying a multiracial group of teenage boys who make camcorder movies in overnight production sessions in the San Francisco Bay Area, Elisabeth Soep contrasts the producers' fictional characters and plots, which draw heavily on transnational blockbuster movie tropes that valorize "hard-core" masculinity, with the boys' moment-to-moment interactions. Their actual discourse is in fact intensely collaborative and intimate, evoking linguistic features coded as "feminine" in both popular language ideologies and sociolinguistic scholarship. Masculinity and queer sexualities are a focus of analysis in Todd Ramlow's essay, which links questions of disability to race and sexuality, through analysis of popular media texts as well as events such as the Columbine high school shootings. He argues, for example, that responses to the rapper Eminem's performances reveal a racialized anxiety about male sexuality and its place in the social order, which is deeply embedded in U.S. national ideology.
Re-Reading the United States
In considering the relationship of youth culture to national ideologies, it must be acknowledged that more than half of the essays here focus on the U.S. national context, even while the book includes new work based in Canada, El Salvador, Sierra Leone, Switzerland, and Thailand. Not surprisingly, in every instance, the research from Central and North America, Africa, Europe, and Asia examines in some way the impact of U.S. media, immigration policy, and human rights frameworks, suggesting the ways in which youth culture makes sense of these cultural and structural forms. Globalization, in fact, can be analyzed within local and national sites, as more and more American Studies scholars in particular are acknowledging, by viewing U.S. culture as itself globalized, rather than only looking outward to places that presumably absorb or are transformed by U.S. cultural exports. For example, the new journal, Comparative American Studies, aims to read America by "repositioning discussions about American culture within an international, comparative framework . . . whilst also fully attending to multiethnic comparisons within the U.S.A." (www.sagepub.com/journal.aspx?pid=355). Perhaps, then, the essays focused on the U.S. in this collection contribute as much to advancing a literature on globalization as do the chapters based elsewhere; globalization happens in, and not only by, the U.S.
As other theorists have pointed out (Gupta & Ferguson 1997; Massey 1994), "the local," after all, is not simply the binary opposite of "the global"—traditional, fixed, authentic, grassroots, progressive, and, often, feminized—even if it can take on these representations for young people who may, often strategically, draw on the meanings of multiple "locals" in their lives. Youth culture helps shift, sometimes even distort, an easy mapping of local/national/global. In some cases, it seems that localism is dismissed even as it remains the site of important moral frameworks that guide young people's decisions, if only to try to escape them, as in Fadzillah's essay on young women working for Amway in a Thai village. Such analyses of the local, emerging from an analysis of the institutions that youth inhabit or (re)create, could help radically rethink debates about place, power, and culture, for they link systems of meaning and structures of production that have not always been yoked together.
In fact, a youthscapes approach articulates discussions of localism and regionalism with the national and the global. Some of the essays in this book (Fleetwood, Guerra Vásquez, Pollock, Soep) foreground the ways in which California, for example, has emerged as a fascinating, and politically charged, regional site in which young people are grappling with the meanings of globalization in response to immigration from Latin America and Asia, border cultures and linguistic creolization, demographic shifts, and punitive state legislation targeting immigrants and youth. In fact, we were struck while editing this book by the number of submissions we received from scholars doing research in California, in particular, that dealt with questions of youth culture and transnationalism. It seems to us, aside from the factor of our own places of residence and local connections, that one reason why California seems to have emerged in our book as a prominent site for studies of youth culture and globalization is because it is a region in which a confluence of social, political, and economic factors have conspired to produce a setting ripe for research on new youth movements. The rich and growing body of work on youth culture by researchers, often young scholars, in California may partly be due to the strong presence of ethnic studies and cultural studies programs within the state that encourage interdisciplinary and critical studies of youth. Institutional factors and regional and national contexts for the production of knowledge shape the intellectual genealogies of youth culture theories, as is apparent in the various strands of work represented in the book.
Youth Subcultures and Popular Culture
The most prominent tradition of youth studies that lends itself to an analysis of local, national, and global issues, as well as to social movements and questions of politics, is that of the Birmingham School. This is clearly not the only model of youth culture studies, or even the only one that has influenced the work represented in this book, in which authors draw on frameworks ranging from gender studies to linguistic anthropology to critical pedagogy. However, the work of the Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies (CCCS) at Birmingham in the 1970s (by Stuart Hall, Dick Hebdige, Phil Cohen, John Clarke, Tony Roberts, Angela McRobbie, Jenny Garber, Simon Frith, and others) was seminal in bringing serious attention to the meanings of youth subcultures at a time of social transition in postwar Britain. Their work was based, for the most part, on ethnographic studies that focused on the rituals that youth create within the context of popular culture consumption and performative practices (Clarke, Hall, Jefferson, and Roberts 1976). Bringing together structuralist and semiotic analyses, this early intervention demonstrated how collectivities of youth used the rituals they had created around cultural commodities such as music or clothing to respond, if only imaginatively or symbolically, to the material contradictions shaping their lives.
This work from CCCS has its antecedents in the U.S. in the qualitative research produced by the sociology department at the University of Chicago, from the 1920s through the 1950s (Thornton 1997, 11). Ethnographers such as Robert Park, Paul Cressey, Howard Becker, and Albert Cohen focused on social interactions in an urban environment, and while they did not focus exclusively on youth, their analysis highlighted issues of social status, collective problem solving, and "deviancy" as a symbolic solution underlying the emergent formulation of "subcultures." While these scholars analyzed "deviant" behavior as a response to problems of social (class or racial) status, they did not undertake the kind of Marxist analysis of capitalism that critiqued the very production of "class" and of "youth," and that was able to explore how the two categories were articulated, not to mention link them to analyses of race, nation, and gender. Furthermore, youth remained associated with deviant or delinquent subcultures rather than shifting focus to other forms of social interaction or subcultural identification in the home, family, or leisure arena. Sarah Thornton (1997, 15) argues that it was studies such as Jock Young's The Drugtakers (1971), which drew on Herbert Marcuse's analysis of work, leisure, and productivity, that provided the transition to the Birmingham school's concerns with youth as mediating both class culture and mass culture. But others also point to the continuities between both schools, which focused on urban, working-class young men and on spectacular forms of subcultural or street-corner activity (Cohen 1997, 150).
Resistance and Disappointment
The Birmingham school theorists, of course, have been critiqued for overinterpreting the working of "resistance" and for focusing largely on the experiences of white, working-class young men (Cohen 1997, Gelder 1997, Turner 1996). Youth culture scholars since then have looked more carefully at the contradictory political meanings of subcultures and "oppositionality," and have also critically examined constructions of gender, sexuality, and race (Duncombe 2002; Gaines 1990; Kelly 1997; Leblanc 1999; Lipsitz 1994; McRobbie 1994, 1999, 2000; Rose 1994; Thornton 1996). We would also argue that while our understandings of resistance clearly need to be complicated—and have been, given the work of Michel Foucault, Ernest Laclau, Chantal Mouffe, and James Scott, among others—the issue of resistance is still on the table. Theorists may have grown weary of the dichotomous framing of resistance, which can pit oppositionality against appropriation, or the micropolitics of popular culture against formal, organized activism. These binaries may be familiar and perhaps frustrating, to the extent that they can lead to a semantics game of sorting particular actions into very subtle abstract categories, making distinctions, for example, among acts that are "oppositional" or "transgressive," "authentic" or "imposed," in the process losing touch with the actual, complex meanings and consequences of these actions in the lives of youth.
It seems that a common cultural studies argument, applied to a variety of sites, is that even apparently progressive cultural forms can in fact be complicit with the very forces participants aim to overthrow. And while this argument may lead academics to throw up their hands in theoretical fatigue, there is still value in drawing attention to the fact that this is how power, in relations of race, gender, and nation, continues to operate, and that resistance may indeed take recognizable forms. We cannot give up on this analysis of resistance, simply because the tradition may feel well established and therefore not "new." Furthermore, young people themselves are very much seeking vernaculars for dissent, and we may be missing the depth and subtlety of their critiques, sometimes out of our own fears of pinning our politics and hopes for a new theory of resistance onto young people. Yet perhaps what is most powerful or instructive are the nuanced ways in which young people express disappointment in the gaps they perceive between the potential for expressive forms and political movements to achieve change, and the complex realities of how that potential can be redirected or diffused. Maybe this idea of disappointment, which young people express in myriad ways, unsettles the binaries of resistance and cooptation, and in a sense resonates with the disappointment of academics longing for theories to reinvigorate our own sense of political efficacy.
We clearly see the ways in which popular culture is a space for contesting ideas about national identity, belonging, or patriotism, as well as the ways in which the space for expression is sometimes constricted to project national consensus. The notion of "the popular" is fraught at this moment, as it inevitably is in times of national and international crises, so it is worth drawing on the essays in this book to think about the ways in which the political meanings of popular culture are produced and critiqued by youth, in the face of images of Gen-X (or Gen-Y) political apathy. Many young people may indeed feel alienated from the forms of politics they see around them, but it is still worth investigating the frameworks that popular culture offers youth, or the frameworks they themselves create though cultural production to understand the political world, if not to question it. In this, we have been inspired by the work of theorists such as Lipsitz, Robin Kelley (1994, 1997), and also Juan Flores (2000), who has argued for a definition of popular culture that is temporal, not just spatial, and that complicates old distinctions of high/elite and low/popular. Drawing on Johannes Fabian's work on anthropology and popular culture, Flores (2000, 20) urges us to "think of popular culture not so much as an entity comprised of products and processes, or as a bounded social space such as low or marginal, but as a relation or system of relations. Rather than marking off boundaries and defining separate spheres of cultural practice, perhaps popular culture is about the traversing and transgressing of them, and characterized by a dialogic among classes and social sectors, such as the popular and nonpopular, high and low, restricted and mass."
Fabian, grappling with questions of democracy and popular culture, offers the notion of "moments of freedom," observing that "the problem of freedom poses itself within, not only between, high and popular, dominant and dominated culture" and concluding that "there can never be a freedom as a state of grace, permanent, and continuous. . . . Freedom, in dialectical parlance, comes in moments" (1998, 20-21). This idea, of moments of freedom—decidedly plural—in popular culture is one that is still provocative to us, especially when juxtaposed with the insights of the various essays in the book that each theorize the relation between popular culture and the political in some way. We think the works here speak best for themselves, given the range of arguments and theoretical possibilities they suggest, and that they attest to the continuing importance not just of the question of politics in youth culture studies, but also of youth culture studies as a political project.
Organization of the Book
The sections that organize the book knit together the different structural and analytic dimensions of the chapters they contain. The first section, Documents and Tags, offers a range of examples of how young people negotiate policies of the state, and of nongovernmental organizations, that regulate youth through notions of citizenship, racial classification, and "rehabilitation." "Documents" suggests the regimes of governmentality that young people are forced to negotiate, whether as refugee youth, high school students, or targets of state profiling. This term highlights the paradoxes faced by youth as they attempt to respond creatively to the spaces these institutions carve out for them, infusing these sites with their own imaginings of citizenship or struggles with democratic ideals. "Tags" evokes the work of graffiti artists who move through urban space leaving marks of their presence in neighborhoods that are often considered by outsiders to be devoid of art or cultural vitality, or on public transportation that carries graffiti through other neighborhoods, even when artists themselves "stay home." "Tags" also evokes the labels or systems of classification imposed on youth, from census categorizations of race to government initiatives defining youth itself to other markers of social difference. It suggests the possibilities, but also limits, of playing with alternate identities in the public sphere.
Movements and Outbreaks, the second section, operates on at least two levels. First, several authors in this section describe new trajectories of youth forming in relationship to consumption, the state, and violence, where identity categories are used strategically as potentially fluid or transnational bases for organizing and reshaping the very notion of youth and family. Throughout this section, youth use diverse resources, ranging from rap lyrics to statistical instruments to fashion statements, to advance their particular and unpredictable movements into and across boundaries. Second, there is the more indirect reference in this section to movement in the sense of new modes of mobility—ideological, physical, and economic—that young people experience through their encounters with, and in some cases critiques of, globalizing or state forces. The essays in this section that address criminalization, deportation, and social stratification point to the structural and imaginary limits of these movements that motivate some "outbreaks" and prevent others.
The final section, Icons and Retakes, contains a set of essays that relate, in one way or another, to identities that young people manufacture and assume through their relationships with and against "established" or iconic personas, such as Jackie Chan, Eminem, and Spike Lee. Each of these chapters comments on a form of doubling, from the "retakes" of video production to the re-reading of lyrics by hip hop audiences to the rewriting of Chan's aesthetic in a young fan's media archives. Retakes could also imply the recreation of family and the back and forth of migration, as in Schneider's essay, which focuses on a young refugee boy growing up in a Swiss foster family after his father returns to Sri Lanka.
Methodologies, Texts, Disciplines
As authors in this volume experiment with diverse techniques of inquiry, youth emerge sometimes as the "figure," the central focus of discussion, and sometimes as the "ground," a cultural category that lends itself to the interrogation of key themes in social theory, for example citizenship, cosmopolitanism, gender, race, or visuality. In this sense, methodological and disciplinary orientation constitute a kind of subtext against which one might read the chapters' substantive theoretical contributions. This shifting methodological and disciplinary subtext seems especially fitting given youth culture studies' own contested position within the academy.
The study of popular cultures within local, national, and globalized contexts is itself, then, never outside institutional tensions pertaining to place, power, and culture. In this sense these essays carry on the longstanding search within cultural studies for ways to avoid vulgar empiricism, on the one hand, and sterile textual criticism, on the other, by developing and employing methods that seem consistent with Stuart Hall's assumption that "culture will always work through its textualities—and at the same time . . . textuality is never enough" (1996, 271; see also Grossberg 1996). Textuality is a major point of provocation for cultural studies scholars, given the continued use of methods derived from the humanities alongside what appears to be something of a move towards reflexive or critical ethnography (Cohen and Ainley 2000). These methodological interventions clearly make their mark in the chapters of this book. Authors use diverse approaches to studying cultural production, for example combining textual and psychoanalytic methods with discourse analysis and ethnographic techniques. Parallel frames of analysis run through these essays, as authors examine media content, explore social context, and reflect critically on their own involvement within their sites of study. In this sense, they point to both the limitations and possibilities of methodological eclecticism, bringing together modes of inquiry born of different, and in some cases not so easily integrated, disciplines.
In many ways the interdisciplinarity of a youthscapes approach, in terms of theory and methodology, aligns with broader trends across the academy to draw on diverse conceptual frameworks and modes of analysis when carrying out research. What stands out here, in particular, is the extent to which authors bring young people's own innovative epistemologies and theoretical resources into conversation with ideas drawn from published literature. Concepts gleaned from daily life and vernaculars within these authors' research sites, and in some cases literally quoted from individual youth, are used not simply as "raw" materials to be interpreted but as already-developed grounded theories that fuel further analysis.
The collection does not consolidate in a single, clear picture of what interdisciplinarity looks like within youth culture studies, and it is also evident that there are works that point to the strengths of training in a particular disciplinary approach or theoretical tradition. The institutional context of the academy, the ways in which departments and programs are formed in relation to disciplines and tenure is awarded and evaluated, inevitably shape the possibilities of interdisciplinary work in a field such as youth culture research. The essays here suggest a call for scholars to be ever vigilant and generous in what they take as data, how they conduct analysis, and what really counts as a worthwhile theoretical contribution. For interdisciplinarity here means not only venturing into areas that fall within a different academic department, but also listening for theories that may rarely if ever appear as such in any literature, but which play an important role in shaping the lives of young people and their real, imaginary, and institutionalized "others" (Lipsitz 1999). To conduct youth culture studies in ways that connect with questions of national ideologies and global processes means, in many cases, pulling theory through analyses, embedding conceptual insights within sources ranging from ethnographic descriptions to visual images to the discourses of youth engaged in moment-to-moment interaction. In this sense the book is uniquely suited to integrate fine-tuned studies of everyday life and popular culture with broader critiques of the local, national, and global. Youth are not merely products of the interconnections among these spheres of social life-sectors easily, and misguidedly, cordoned off from each other as "micro" and "macro" levels of analysis. Rather, young people forge those connections in their daily lives, as they move through the institutions that shape how we and they live together in the deep and uneven relations that surface in this volume.