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Archive for November, 2013

A Hybrid Global Youth Culture?

Hybrid Culture and Glocalization–Please comment with your observations

Taika observes from Ethiopia, “Globalization made us unable to find our identity. The more educated we are the more we want to get better at being like western countries.” In his book on Globalization, Manfred Steger describes the global age as characterized by a dynamic process of interconnectedness and increasing interdependence, technology, mass-market commodities, growing awareness of being part of a global community and weakening nationality. He gives examples of vanguard hybrid exchange occurring in New York, London, Tokyo and Shanghai. Enormous waves of migration increase cultural and economic interchanges. The number of international migrants increased by 30% to an estimated 214 million people by 2010.[i] If all the migrants were put in one country, it would be the fourth most populated, surpassed only by China, India and the US, according to the United Nations’ Population Division. The largest internal migration is the exodus of rural girls from the Chinese countryside to work in factories in coastal cities. The subhuman conditions in textile factories where low-paid workers are forced to go without adequate sleep or breaks with low pay is documented in China Blue (2006), about Jasmine, a 16-year-old migrant.

Educated young people have migrated in large numbers to Commonwealth countries, the US, and Middle East due to shrinking job markets. Yvon Resplandy, USAID Senior Advisor, reports, “Global Citizens already exist, although they’re not yet fully recognized. There are more than 100 million people across the globe who have left their countries of origin to try a new life elsewhere, a good number of them are refugees (or IDP, Internally Displaced People) but the vast majority are migrants.” Taika adds that much of immigration is done illegally, which results in loss of life daily. Only about 5% of the world’s populations still think of themselves as rooted to their ancestor’s homeland in an indigenous culture, like the Yanomami in Brazil or the Congo Pygmies.[ii] Films portray efforts to stamp out indigenous cultures, as listed in the discussion activities at the end of the chapter.

By 2010, the United Nations reported that almost 214 million people had migrated, mainly to cities (20% of the international migrants moved to the US). Around 44 million more people are refugees fleeing violence or persecution, or recently climate refugees, such as those escaping drought in Africa. This trend will increase, especially for people harmed by sea level rise, loss of arable land, and drying up of underground water aquifers. Video interviews with migrants from rural to urban areas in developing countries are on YouTube.[iii] One of the BBC interviewees, a young migrant from Sierra Leone, Chernor Bah explained that youth migrate to improve their lives and that education is the number one way to achieve this goal, or like him, to escape violence in his country. Slightly more migrants were male and migrants were likely to move to developed countries.             The median age of international migrants was 39 and youth comprise about 30% (an estimated 27 million between the ages of 15 and 24). They share ideas and skills back and forth from country to country. An example is popular British rapper M.I.A. whose family is from Sri Lanka. Her music draws from Jamaica, Angola, India, Britain and the US with political messages that advocate “pull up the poor.” She quoted Julian Assange, the founder of WikiLeaks, in one of her videos. He in turn called her “the most courageous woman working in Western music.” She’s seen on YouTube, as on this video with Hindu images.[iv]

Globalization and immigration leads to cultural clashes such as the French government outlawing signs of religious affiliation like Muslim or Sikh headcovering in schools, and the rise of anti-immigrant political groups such as the Golden Dawn in Greece, the National Front in France, and the Tea Party in the US.

The borders between education, entertainment, and advertising and—to some extent–countries have collapsed, creating a “hybrid global influence” transforming how people define their identities and values.[v]  For example, a 15-year-old girl from Romania, Ariana reported that the TV show Grey’s Anatomy “made me consider becoming a surgeon, despite the amount of information you have to learn,” and another US TV show called Suits inspired her to think about becoming a lawyer. A Chinese only child said he grew up feeling “lonely and fragile” and was comforted by watching Growing Pains with its family of three children. A Puerto Rican girl who grew up in a tough South Bronx neighborhood was inspired to become a lawyer by watching the TV show Perry Mason and eventually Sonia Sotomayor became Supreme Court justice. In Egypt, Shereen El Feki sees a “mesh of civilizations” in popular culture, as illustrated in her TED talk.[vi]

Roohi, a 17-year-old girl in Singapore of Indian ancestry observes:

 

With regards to consumerism and youth, I feel that we can be divided into two main categories. Those who accept it and integrate it into their lives and those who don’t. It’s difficult to be in the middle, because once you see the impacts of consumerism around the world, it’s hard to be accepting of it. There are many times where having the right clothes, the right look, things like these are given more emphasis and importance than what used to be more valued, such as friendships.

I mean no offence to America, but in so many cases people are losing their culture and tradition to adopt a foreign one. In this globalized world, it’s definitely important to have international interactions and be accepting and integrate with people of other cultures, but youth should not forget their roots and the more important things in life.

 

Anthropologist Mitzi Goheen reports that both Matlock and Sesame Street are popular on Cameroon’s new television system, along with German game shows and Brazilian soap operas. In India, the media developed “Hinglish,” blending Hindi and English, like “Spanglish” in the US. “Brazlish” developed in Brazil in preparation for the Olympics. Another example of eclectic global tastes and “global youth flows,” Lbeth, (17) from Ecuador, mentioned a New Zealand band “The Naked and Famous,” liking their lyrics “We’re only young and naïve still….” An Iraqi college student called Hadia or HNK lists her likes on her English-language blog.[vii] Her favorite movies are American and British: Home Alone, Zorro, Shrek, You’ve Got Mail, The Fellowship of the Ring, The Secret, and Harry Potter. Her favorite music includes Josh Groban, Enya, Kadhim al-Saher, Fayrouz, and Abdulhalim Hafeth. Her diverse list of favorite books includes The Holy Koran, Haiaty, She’s the Queen, Harry Potter, and Gone with the Wind.

Because of a lack of research on “the intersection of youth, religion, and globalization,” Princeton Theological Seminary researchers interviewed 20 to 100 young Christians in each of eight countries (Japan, Russia, Germany, India, Argentina, Paraguay, Ghana and the US).[viii] They found that youth in developed countries and religious young people in various countries tend to be hopeful about global unity. Young people in developing countries and the non-religious worry about the negative impact of globalization on their job prospects and increasing poverty in their countries. Influenced by postmodern culture of “radical pluralism,” youth tend to value tolerance and openness. As an Argentinean youth told the Princeton interviewers, “We are confronted by different cultures, languages, and a diversity of thoughts. I believe that is good. . . It is OK to consider accepting other people’s values, providing that we use caution and discernment.”

Globalization means that youth are growing up in a more integrated world with more influences from outside the family than previous generations: finding jobs outside the family enterprise and away from home, learning more skills from school than family, increasing awareness of the world outside the local, more gender equality, and longer life expectancies.[ix] A Nepali high school teacher told me about his students, “They’re influenced by American culture and music, and modern technology. They think they know more than their ancestors and their teachers.”

SpeakOut youth report that just because adults were once teenagers, it doesn’t mean they understand today’s teens because life is different now. The context youth face is described by book editors Susan Dewey and Karen Brison.[x] New influences on young people are access to global trends that stress individualism and consumerism made possible by Internet, mass media and mobile phones. Migration or warfare separates some youth from their parents. Mass education takes children out of the home and away from family labor that may impact socialization of the students differently than what the family values. Other influences identified by Dewey and Brison are NGOs in developing areas teach “youth agency” emphasize rights, such as the right for children to go to school rather than have to work or girls’ right to be safe and empowered. In some areas, youth are proselytized by religious groups such as evangelicals. All these modern trends open young people to global influences.

Dewey and Brison follow psychoanalyst Erik Erikson’s belief that the adolescent task is to establish identity. They maintain that young people’s task in facing all these modern changes is to define their own special gendered identities within their local cultures. Developing nations are also attempting to define their cultural identities, so that, “ideas about children and youth are integral to national and regional attempts to define self relative to former colonizers and wealthier nations.”[xi]

One of the main issues youth face is the opposing forces of global consumerism and local tradition, existing in a tug of war. Yann Martel, author of the novel made into the popular movie The Life of Pi, believes that “cultural globalization is anathema to real culture, which is local.” Rural village life is very different from global consumerism, as Hassan described how he would be different if he grew up in his ancestral village rather than the city of Peshawar: “I would have been living in a society of decent people where fashion and style doesn’t matter. All that matters is tradition, religion and respect. I would have been more religious than I am right now.” Taika said, “I would have been married with a bunch of kids totally oblivious about globalization and any of its broods.” In India, a girl in Haryana State complained that parents give cell phones to city girls, but not to villagers, so as a college student she secretly got a phone and changes into jeans when she leaves the village. A father in her village of Dhakla warned, “As long as the girl lives within moral codes, she can have as much freedom as she wants. If they are going after love affairs or extra freedom, then they are killed.”[xii]

Some young people fear imported entertainment disrupts their local culture. Brazilian teens told me that as kids they watched Disney movies like The Lion King, cartoons like SpongeBob SquarePants, and other kids’ TV shows on the Nickelodeon channel, and now they listen to hip-hop and rock. Vivi, 19, fears that American media undermines Brazilian culture—his favorite is samba music. He and his girlfriend said appearance is very important to them, especially when going to church. Brazilian kids are very brand conscious and want popular brand clothes and shoes.

From Ethiopia, Taika reports,

 

American productions have become the main and basically the only veto power of our world. In Addis, the capital, speaking Ethiopian is considered uncool. Except some popular things, teens don’t read Amharic (working language) books, but they can stop going on and on about the Twilight videos. Teens don’t listen to cultural songs, because they might not fit the crowd. Speaking English is given more value than it should have. The worst in all this is teens don’t actually understand that it is wrong and the parents just don’t seem to care.

 

Concern about globalization and its destruction of local traditions and communities was expressed at a UNESCO Asian Youth Forum representing 21 countries and 60% of the world’s youth, held in South Korea in 2009. The young people resolved that globalization over the last few decades was harmful; “In the face of cyclical economic crises and the continuing decrease in human values, Asian youth are losing their identities and dreams that inspire them to build the future in which we want to live.” Instead of being “passive recipients of so-called global solutions that have often failed to reach the most marginalized and vulnerable people around us,” they resolved to find Asian alternatives based on local traditions and Asian values of respect for others and for nature. They recognized the need to encourage youth activism at the community level although students and job seekers lack free time to do volunteer work.

A youth from Ghana said, “They should not forget that they have their own culture to learn and practice to become good citizens of their country.” Others adopt “glocalization” maintaining their cultural identity while adapting to Western ideas. Globalization is associated with McDonaldization of American music and film, sports, and junk food. Youth report big differences between how they and their parents grew up in countries like Russia or in developing countries where youth are more informed by media than their parents were as teens.

 


[ii] Wade Davis, “The Issue is Whether Ancient Cultures Will be Free to Change on their Own Terms,” National Geographic, August 1999, p. 64.

[iii] http://www.youtube.com/channel/UCJ-u0_yuYIIQuAviPrDGxEg?feature=watch

Taped by the Global Youth department of the US State Department in 2013..

[v] Jane Kenway and Elizabeth Bullen. Consuming Children: Education-Entertainment-Advertising. Open University Press, 2001, p. 3

www.cornerstone.edu/…/GLC%20Global%20Contrast%20Stats.pdf facts about global consumption

[vii] www.blogger.com/profile/05385172984445391831

Her younger sister, also a college student, blogs at http://iraqigirl.blogspot.com where she wrote, “I am a 20-years-old girl, living in Mosul/Iraq (the most dangerous place in the world) where I face death every day.” She wrote a book Iraqi Girl: Diary of a Teenage Girl in Iraq. Haymarket Books, 2009.

[viii] Richard Osmer and Kenda Creasy Dean, eds. Youth, Religion and Globalization. Transaction Publishers, 2007, pp. 251-267.

[ix] Cynthia Lloyd, et all., Introduction, The Changing Transitions to Adulthood to Adulthood in Developing Countries, National Academy of Sciences, 2006.

http://www.nap.edu/openbook.php?record_id=11524&page=1

[x] Susan Dewey and Karen Brison, editors. Super Girls, Gangstas, Freeters, and Xenomaniacs. Syracuse University Press, 2012, pp. 1-21.

[xi] Ibid, p. 17.

[xii] Ellen Barry, “Policing Village Moral Codes as Women Stream to India’s Cities,” New York Times, October 19, 2013.

http://www.nytimes.com/2013/10/20/world/asia/policing-village-moral-codes-as-women-stream-to-indias-cities.html

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Amsterdam travel notes

13-year-olds AmsterdamAmsterdam, 11-13

Photos on Facebook page Global Youth SpeakOut

https://www.facebook.com/media/set/?set=a.697320013626526.1073741826.160382763986923&type=3&uploaded=1

Flew out of Chico at 6 am, nice talk with another yoga student. She’s off to Mexico. I’ve been needing more Russian youth input into my book, agreeable universe put a Ukrainian who works with Russian teens in Portugal next to me, good talk on the way to Chicago. Her family moved to Fresno after she finished high school (11th grade finishes there) and entered her senior year in a Fresno high school. A total shock because she was used to being with the same group of 30 students since 4th grade. They have a mentor teacher who stays with them their whole school experience, encouraging and watching out for them. She thinks that most of the group went on to university because of their mentor’s encouragement. Nothing like that here. She wanted to come to the US because when she was 17 it cost around $2,000 to bribe university admission officials, although that’s changed now that everything is online. I had three hours in Chicago airport, spent most of the time walking up and down under the light show of changing neo rainbow lights. Then seven hours to Amsterdam. Luckily the seat next to me so I could do some pretzel-like curling up to sleep a bit.

I’m staying in a hostel but my own room—wish they’d told me no soap, towels or glasses. The Dutch are exceptionally helpful and friendly. I saw a UPS driver stop for a cyclist and smile at him. They describe themselves as “curt,” but they seem more relaxed than Americans, even in Chico.  The bike lanes are full of people of all ages cycling.  An Alaskan girl who has lived here for nine years did a “free” tour of the historic city, you tip what ever you want. She is not a fan of Dutch men because she’s found them unwilling to work through issues.

She views the Dutch as historically very tolerant because their priority was making money not ideologies. They were one of their first to legalize gay marriage. Why? In the 16th century everyone had to work together to sandbag the city to keep it dry. Now about half of the people who live here aren’t Dutch. I’ve seen Muslim women in headscarfs, people of African ancestry, etc. We saw lots of canals dug by peasants in the 1600s with over 1,000 bridges, an old commercial building that Rembrandt painted. Many of the old building are tipped to one side because they’re built on sand and wood pillions, so close to sea level here, was a marsh. We walked by the prostitutes in their windows, wearing bikinis. They looked like normal pretty girls, shocking to think of what they feel they have to do for money. I looked at them in the eyes and smiled to let them know I recognized them as sisters. We saw the exterior of the Anne Frank house (we share the same birthdate) and other historic buildings, walked down a street where “coffee houses” sell pot. It’s not legal but the authorities look the other way because of the tourist dollars. I walked along the canals for more hours, looked at the flea market where luckily I didn’t find anything to buy as my suitcase is full of rain gear for the bike trip on Friday. Luckily today was sunny although cold.

Thurs. was rainy so I just went to the zoo. The most fun was seeing the beavers chewing on logs because I’ve seen their dens but never them in action. Amsterdam does a good job of creating green spaces, lots of parks. The older row houses are four narrow stories built around an inner courtyard. One woman told me it’s mostly for looking out your windows. Where she lives, there are five floors and five families. They do have an elevator. Nothing here is natural in the sense that the large park and the forest on the outskirts were all human built after they reclaimed the marshes. The big park has been sinking, so they’re engineering drains. I was told the Dutch engineers are experts, go to places like Hong Kong to create new land.

Friday was a perfect sunny crisp day for a three-hour bike ride to the countryside. Our leader was a well-informed young Brit who has lived here for 12 years. It’s easy to ride through the city because bike paths are on every street (also lots of trolleys and buses, not too many cars, some very small as seen in the photo of the red car). An Australian couple, a guy from San Jose who works for the State Dept in Tanzania, and an Oregon nurse on her way to Rwanda made up our group. Riding over the canals, we soon were on a country road along the river with large houses on one side. We stopped to see one of the few working windmills. It’s also the home to the man who was born there although its been moved to this new location. (see photo) Next we stopped at an 800-year-old farmhouse where the farm family makes gouda-style cheese from their 29 cows. He still had wax on his hands from one round of dipping them. They keep them indoors in the winter, along with the bull who has sired 100 calves this season. The farmer also makes wooden shoes with colorful painted design. We rode through the green podder lowlands, maintained by dikes. If they weren’t maintained, half of the Netherlands would be under water. Lots of waterfowl take advantage of the green fields protected by water, a swan paddled past us, very idyllic. The guide gave me 5 minutes to run into a middle school to find a teacher to give the book questions to students. I found one teacher and asked her to give the questions to an English teacher. And then back to the city and the conference started that eve.

Such a treat to be with people around the world and lucky English is the universal language. Sat. I soaked in info, taking copious notes, for 12 hours non-stop, eating left over breakfast food from the hostel. They provide cold cuts, organic whole wheat bread, yogurt and granola, apples and oranges every morning. Sunday, today, the conference ended earlier. I got email contacts from young activists from Greece, turkey, Spain, Brazil, Childe and Palestine to help with the youth activism book, yeah!!  I celebrated with a cream puff and watched ice skaters in an outdoor rink in a square with lots of people sitting in outdoor cafes. Today was a big celebration for the town. Santa Claus parades around the town, supposedly arriving from Spain. He’s accompanied by lots of blackface helpers who take gifts from Santa down the chimney. A small protest was underway to ask that blackface be discontinued, I think mostly from the conference participants.  Kids wore special hats with feathers and capes and waved flags to welcome Santa.

As to what I’ve learned, themes were anti-neoliberal austerity programs, anti-capitalism, anti-state. I pressed in the question period for solutions. One Egyptian said it’s too early. Some talk about forming co-ops, workers running their own factories, and other alternatives but not a lot of clarity about future society. Some speakers labeled themselves as anarchists, meaning anti-state. The three years of global uprisings were considered failures in that not much has changed, i.e. Egypt still has military rule, Greeks are suffering greatly, etc. But, they’re successes in that people are empowered, knowing they can make change. A lot of the videos showed police violence, including shooting with real bullets in Egypt, but the point was also made that media coverage of police brutality brought the masses to the streets, as in Greece. Some discussion of violence as necessary when confronted with police violence, cool to burn police cars, or a bright Palestinian blind young woman said it’s OK for youth to throw rocks at Israeli soldiers who occupy their land.

The most moving talk was by an Egyptian feminist who was in tears describing the “circle of hell” that often occurs where a large crowd of men surrounds a woman and grope or rape her, several were raped with a knife. She and others have formed protection groups to go in and rescue such women. You can’t really go to the police for help because the government’s position is that women should stay home. You’d have to be very courageous to report rape, as some women have done. Another theme is they believe horizontal direct action organizing works, very anti-hierarchy. Mostly a 20s and 30s crowd, but the plenary speakers were older academics, authors, mostly male American and British. The panels were most interesting because they were the young people on the streets from all the countries where uprisings occurred except the Tunisians couldn’t get visas. The organizers, a Canadian man and Dutch globalization professor (maybe a couple?) have made films about the uprisings so they have a network.

Monday I continued my interest in the narrow Dutch houses by visiting Rembrandt’s home from the 17th century, five stories high (see photos). He wasn’t a good Calvinist. After his wife died at 30, giving birth to four children—only one survived, he hired a widow to take care of his son and ended up in what the museum film called a romantic relationship. She sued him to marry her after I think 8 years of living together. He was obliged to give her monthly payments but sent her to a workhouse for women. Then he got involved with his next domestic worker, age 23. The museum had hands-on workshops, including etching. I didn’t realize it’s so difficult because everything prints in reverse. Then off to find a new place with minimal directions to hear anarchists from Spain and Chile, translated by an American guy who lives in Barcelona. O overall a godsend for contacts for the youth activism book. The most fun was the bike ride to the countryside. I wanted to take a bus to nearby port cities today but it was rainy and cold, thought I better guard my health for the 18 hour ride home. Stopped in Frankfort so I got to buy some German cookies. Lovely to be home now!

Marinaleda and Zapatista alternative to neoliberal capitalism

Some Brazilian activists met with Zapatistas in Chiapas to learn from their movement that surfaced in 1994, including 19-year-old Luiza Calagian. Philosophy student Marcelo Hotimsky explained, “The Zapatistas have greatly influenced the alter-globalization movement. They are part of a historical process [begun in 1983] of which we are the fruit.” The Zpatistas of Chiapas started building their own autonomous horizontal self-governing communities in 2003, including women’s rights: Each of five self-sufficient communities have a collective health clinic, school, community gardens, etc.[i] Children participate in many of the community activities, working in teams. Photos are available on their Facebook page “Enlace Zapatista.”

In 2013, they invited global activists to their “Little School of Liberty According to the Zapatistas,” including some participating through video conference. A reporter who stayed with a family in the Tojolabal community said the father did his share of family work and alcohol is prohibited which he linked to the absence of aggression or grumpiness in the family.[ii] Decisions are made collectively, as when visitors asked a question, the group would quietly converse, and then one person would speak for everyone. Raúl Zibechi concluded that the Zapatistas are building a new world.

In a book about how to “uproot the system and build a better world” in an era of global crisis, Subcomandante Marcos (said to be a former Mexican professor) the head of the Mexican Zapatista rebels summarized the two directions of globalization: “The one from above that globalizes conformity, cynicism, stupidity, war, destruction, death, and amnesia. And the one from below, that globalizes rebellion, hope, creativity, intelligence, imagination, life, memory, building a world where many worlds fit.”[i] The question is which direction will attract youth. Marcos calls the struggle against neoliberalism the “Fourth World War,” the third being the Cold War. He believes, “Neoliberalism is the chaotic theory of economic chaos, the stupid exultation of social stupidity, and the catastrophic political management of catastrophe.” Zapatista horizontal democracy has influenced recent uprisings, as when Brazilian student activists traveled to Chiapas, Mexico.

A remote village in Spain, Marinaleda is a rare example of a kind of communist society of cooperativistas like the Zapatistas in Mexico. Let by their mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, they created an island of economic security in a country with high unemployment for the “precariat” who lack job security. The village cooperative owns 1,200 hectare farm where they grow olives and vegetables, crops selected because they are labor intensive in order to create work for as many people as possible. Any profit is used to create more jobs. Every farm worker earns the same salary, which is double the Spanish minimum wage. Some families own their own small farms. Everyone gathers one Sunday a month to work without pay on local improvement projects and decisions are made in general assemblies. Villagers help each other build houses, including three bedrooms and a courtyard at the cost of only 15 euros a month.

A young man told Dan Hancox, the author of a book about Marinealeda (The Village Against the World, 2013) that many villagers “become communists, because they want to work, or they want to have a house, but not because they are communist. They don’t sit at home reading Karl Marx.” The village young people aren’t as enamored with working on the land as their elders who fought hard to get it starting in the late 1970s with occupations of public places, hunger strikes and marches, suffering many arrests. In Spain young people are referred to as mileuristas because they’ve had to survive on 1,000 euros a month, or as ninis (neither work nor study), and  juventud sin futuro, youth without a future whose only hope is emigrating. Some Marinaleda youth also leave in search of non-agricultural work. A mural on a farm house reads “Don’t emigrate, fight!” written over portraits of Zapata, Malcolm X and Gerónimo. Albeit rare, alternatives to capitalism desired by many youth activists do exist.


[i] David Solnit, ed. Globalize Liberation. City Lights Books, 2004.


In a book about how to “uproot the system and build a better world” in an era of global crisis, Subcomandante Marcos (said to be a former Mexican professor) the head of the Mexican Zapatista rebels summarized the two directions of globalization: “The one from above that globalizes conformity, cynicism, stupidity, war, destruction, death, and amnesia. And the one from below, that globalizes rebellion, hope, creativity, intelligence, imagination, life, memory, building a world where many worlds fit.”[i] The question is which direction will attract youth. Marcos calls the struggle against neoliberalism the “Fourth World War,” the third being the Cold War. He believes, “Neoliberalism is the chaotic theory of economic chaos, the stupid exultation of social stupidity, and the catastrophic political management of catastrophe.” Zapatista horizontal democracy has influenced recent uprisings, as when Brazilian student activists traveled to Chiapas, Mexico.

A remote village in Spain, Marinaleda is a rare example of a kind of communist society of cooperativistas like the Zapatistas in Mexico. Let by their mayor, Juan Manuel Sánchez Gordillo, they created an island of economic security in a country with high unemployment for the “precariat” who lack job security. The village cooperative owns 1,200 hectare farm where they grow olives and vegetables, crops selected because they are labor intensive in order to create work for as many people as possible. Any profit is used to create more jobs. Every farm worker earns the same salary, which is double the Spanish minimum wage. Some families own their own small farms. Everyone gathers one Sunday a month to work without pay on local improvement projects and decisions are made in general assemblies. Villagers help each other build houses, including three bedrooms and a courtyard at the cost of only 15 euros a month.

A young man told Dan Hancox, the author of a book about Marinealeda (The Village Against the World, 2013) that many villagers “become communists, because they want to work, or they want to have a house, but not because they are communist. They don’t sit at home reading Karl Marx.” The village young people aren’t as enamored with working on the land as their elders who fought hard to get it starting in the late 1970s with occupations of public places, hunger strikes and marches, suffering many arrests. In Spain young people are referred to as mileuristas because they’ve had to survive on 1,000 euros a month, or as ninis (neither work nor study), and  juventud sin futuro, youth without a future whose only hope is emigrating. Some Marinaleda youth also leave in search of non-agricultural work. A mural on a farm house reads “Don’t emigrate, fight!” written over portraits of Zapata, Malcolm X and Gerónimo. Albeit rare, alternatives to capitalism desired by many youth activists do exist.


[i] David Solnit, ed. Globalize Liberation. City Lights Books, 2004.

 

Recent African Youth Protests

A Nigerian scholar, Akin Iwilade observed that African youth-led protests–against austerity programs that increase the cost of food and fuel–bypass the established opposition such as labor unions. The global economic crisis destabilizes established politics, thereby enabling “a global youth culture of protest” and criticism of neoliberalism. African youth are motivated by the economic crisis to construct “hybrid identities” using social media to address local issues. Urban lower-middle class youth are the new activists because of their access to cell phones and the Internet, as they were in recent protests in Uganda, Nigeria, Senegal, Kenya, Mozambique, Tunisia and Egypt. He says, “What emerges from this identity construction process is a hybrid youth that is acutely aware of global discourses of development and democracy and at the same time in touch with the local dimensions of exclusion and disempowerment.” Being part of a protest is seen as cool in youth culture, unlike the more differential attitudes of older generations. Using Twitter, Facebook and texting they use their technical expertise to organize leaderless uprisings, joined by poor uneducated youth as in Mozambique. For example, food riots occurred in Mozambique in 2010 and protests against cuts in fuel subsidies in Nigeria in 2012. As in other youth uprisings, music, dancing and humor were on stage at protests. The problem arises when negotiating a settlement with the government without leaders and specific demands, so the organized old guard moves in as the military did in Egypt after the revolution and the unions did in Nigeria. Isilade is optimistic that “Africa is at last showing signs of emerging from its underdevelopment.”

Global Youth Issues to Discuss and Share Your Ideas

Discussion Activities Chapter 1

You’re invited to post your answers here or Facebook page Global Youth SpeakOut. These questions draw from Awesome: How Global Youth Transform Our Future by Gayle Kimball.

Questions

*Compare similarities and differences in the lives of the four young people profiled in this chapter from Brazil, Tanzania, Pakistan and China. Who would you most like to talk with and why? How are they similar or different from youth you know? Do you see hybrid blending of local and global culture in their lives and attitudes?

*What characteristics do you observe common to young people internationally, based on your observations of film, music, political movements and ways of organizing, values and goals?  What are the global influences in your own life? Do you agree that much of global culture is youth culture?

*Read about some youth change makers on  http://www.global1.youth-leader.org/about-2/get-inspired-youth-leadership/

*What are the most pressing global issues and main influences shaping them when you think about the future? Do you agree with Alvin Toffler than technological changes (i.e., plow, printing press, steam engine, computer) are the main drivers of historic change?

*Do youth have power despite their lack of experience in the world? Why are they the most ignored age group by researchers?

Activities

*Is there an ethnic district in a city you can visit such as China Town? What similarities and differences do you see compared to the dominant culture in your area?

*Talk with  young people around the world as on TakingItGlobal (www.tigweb.org), or Voices of Youth (Unifcef.org/voy), or my Global Youth SpeakOut on Facebook.

Films

*Watch films about urban youth and their families compared to rural youth, and the migration of rural youth to cities. What differences do you see? Poverty is an overriding problem. If you were the ruler of the world, how would you tackle it? Possible films about rural vs. urban life are:

Stolen Life about Chinese rural migrants to the city. Stolen Life. It shows the class system where city people look down on rural peasants. A freshman university student is corrupted by a scheming boyfriend. (China, 2005)

Balzac and the Little Chinese Seamstress.  During the Cultural Revolution, two intellectual city boys are sent to the countryside. The shows the impact of the country on them, and visa versa, especially the young seamstress who falls in love with reading. (2002)

The Road Home. An 18-year-old girl in a mountain village falls in love with the new 20-year-old schoolteacher. There’s no kissing in this love story, lots of eye contact and cooking food for him.  (China, 1999)

Mao’s Last Dancer: An Australian film about a peasant boy—the sixth son in his family—who was raised during the Chinese Cultural Revolution, trained in Beijing to be a ballet dancer. The film is based on his autobiography, with flash backs from his rural boyhood to dancing in Texas. 2009

Born in Brothels. It follows the stories of several children growing up in the red-light district of Calcutta, and the impact made on them when they are given cameras to record their daily lives. (India, 2004)

Slumdog Millionaire. A slum boy ends up on a quiz show and his friends as they grow up. (India, 2008)

City of God shows crime life in a favela/slum in Rio, Brazil. (2002)

City of Men. About two 18-year-old boys who grew up in RIo slums. (2007)

Bus 174: A documentary about a former street kid who hijacks a city bus in Rio. (Brazil, 2003)

Only When I Dance. 18-year-old Irlan succeeds as a ballet dancer, stating, “My greatest desire is to give my parents a better life.” Isabela, 17, struggles less successfully to leave slum life behind. Her dark skin keeps her from being accepted in a Brazilian dance company. (Brazil, 2009)

The Zone. A walled compound of wealthy families in Mexico City is broken into by three teen boys who try to steal from one of the homes. One of slum boys, Miguel, hides out and is befriended by another teen who lives in the compound, Alejandro. The film shows the gap between rich and poor, how the police can be bribed and the rich take justice into their own hands. It’s violent. (2007)

Born in Brothels. It follows the stories of several children growing up in the red-light district of Calcutta, and the impact made on them when they are given cameras to record their daily lives. (2004)

Hermano. Two teen soccer players live in a Caracas slum, one of them is in a gang. (Venezuela, 2012)

Yesterday. An illiterate Zulu farmwoman, whose husband works in the mines in Johannesburg, learns she had AIDS. She is determined to stay alive until her daughter starts school. Shows village life. (South Africa, 2004)

Beat the Drum is about orphans who live on the streets of Johannesburg. (South Africa, 2002)

A Separation. A middle-class couple in Tehran separate because the mother wants to leave Iran. The father brings in a lower-class caregiver for his father who has Alzheimer’s disease. She brings her young daughter with her. Their 11-year-old daughter Termeh is caught in the middle of her parents’ disagreements. She lies to prevent her father from going to jail after an incident where he pushes the caregiver out of his door and she has a miscarriage.  Masoud Ferasati, an Iranian writer close to government said: “The image of our society that A Separation depicts is the dirty picture Westerners are wishing for.” It’s similar to the film Divorce Iranian Style. (Iran, 2011)

Bliss tells the story of an ex-commando who is ordered by his family to kill his 17-year-old cousin, an “honor killing,” because she was raped and “tainted.” It contrasts the differences between rural and urban lifestyles and shows the girl’s increasing strength to stand up for herself. (Turkey, 2007)

Nairobi Half Life. A young aspiring actor, Mwas migrates from a village in rural Kenya to Nairobi and is exposed to slum life and gang crime. (2012)

Machuca. The film takes place in 1973, when the first socialist president democratically elected in a Latin-American country, President Salvador Allende is murdered. The story is about an upper-class boy who meets a lower-class boy when their Catholic school is integrated. Their friendship is torn apart by the military coup led by General Augusto Pinochet. (Argentina, 2004)

To Be and to Have. A documentary about a dedicated teacher in a one-room schoolhouse in a rural French village. 2003

Owl and the Sparrow. A 10-year-old orphan girl lives on the streets of Saigon. (2006)

The Story of the Weeping Camel. A family of nomadic shepherds raises a white camel calf. (Mongolia, 2004)

In America: an Irish immigrant family comes to live in a tenement in New York City, told from the point of view of the little girls. (US, 2003)

Beasts of the Southern Wild. A six-year-old black girl lives ion an island in the Louisiana bayou with her alcoholic and sick father in poverty without electricity, both of them first-time actors. Her father refers to her as “man,” and teaches her to be a tough and survivor. (US, 2012)

Films about discrimination against indigenous young people:

Map of the Human Heart. About an Eskimo boy Avik, nicknamed Holy Boy, by a New Zealand filmmaker. It shows his corruption by western culture. (Eskimo, 1993)

Walkabout  tells the story of an aboriginal boy who befriends two lost children. (Australia, 1971)

Rabbit-Proof Fence. True story about three indigenous girls (ages 8-14) who are kidnapped and taken to a missionary school in the 1930s because they are half white, and escape to travel hundreds of miles on foot with no food or water or map to get back home. The girls had no previous experience as actors. (Australia, 2002)

Kite Runner: Takes place in Afghanistan in the 1970s, about a Pashtun boy and underclass Hazara boy. (Afghanistan, 2007)

Discussion Activities Chapter 2

Questions

  1. Adults often focus on the negative aspects of young people, such as delinquency, yet view them as the source of what’s cool and trendy. Is there both a war on kids and a desire to be like them? What explains this contradiction?
  2. Some say Generations Y and Z are different from Baby Boomers who said not to trust anyone over 30 in their closeness to their parents. Others say there’s a generation gap due to different lifestyles, values and reliance on technology. Which seems most accurate to you?
  3. Helicopter parents are criticized for being too controlling and demanding school success. Agree or disagree? What about kids who are neglected by their parents?
  4. Millennials are the “relationship generation,” who like to spend time with their parents. Has the generation gap narrowed? SpeakOut youth criticized adults for their bad habits, judgmentalism, lack of understanding, bossiness, and being stressed and angry. How can these two dichotomies exist at the same time?

Activities

  1. Look through print media ads to see how youth are portrayed.
  2. Interview different generations in your family, asking them how they would characterize Baby Boomers (born 1943 to 1960, using Neil Howe’s dates), Gen X (1961-1981), Gen Y (1982-2004), and Gen Z (2005-present).

Films

Observe the generational differences in this first generation Indian family in the US, England, and Canada:

The Namesake. After an arranged marriage in Calcutta, the couple comes to New York for his work. The film is about their son’s attempts to integrate Indian and American culture. 2007

Bend it Like Beckham. About an 18-year-old Punjabi Sheik girl is a good soccer player, but her parents don’t think its proper for an Indian girl to run around in shorts, even though they live in London, but she persists. 2002

In Between Days is about a young girl from South Korea and her lonely coming of age in Canada. 2006

Discussion Activities Chapter 3

Questions

  1. List people you know well by generation: Baby Boomer, Generation X, Generations Y and Z. Do you observe differences in their approach to life?

Do you agree that Baby Boomers tend to be individualistic, idealists, and rebels? Gen X alienated and reactive? Gen Y pragmatic optimists, civic minded? Gen Z Conformists, adaptive, protected

2. Are kids too protected and controlled by their parents, too pressured to get into a good university, resulting in fragile teacups that aren’t used to coping on their own?

  1. Globally, people generally agree that the difference between generations is young people’s grasp of technology. Marshall McLuhan said that the medium is the message, that our ways of thinking are shaped by the media we use, that how a message is delivered influenced our understanding of the information. Some young people use the term “hive mind.” Discuss.
  2.  On the plus side, global media brings us instant information from around the world. On the minus side, it sells consumerism and breeds frustration. If you were in charge of all the media in the world, how would you change it? Would you extend it to villagers in rural areas?

Activities

1. Spend time with places where generations congregate and observe. Do volunteer work for a retirement center or school.

Films

View films that critics feel characterize the various generations.

http://news.moviefone.com/2010/09/29/movies-that-defined-generations/

http://news.moviefone.com/2010/09/29/movies-that-defined-generations/

http://blogs.indiewire.com/spout/10_more_films_that_define_this_generation

Films that define generation y

For example:

Greatest Generation: The Best Years of Our Lives (1946)

Baby Boomers: Rebel Without a Cause (1955), The Graduate (1967), Easy Rider (1969), Saturday night Fever (1977), The Big Chill (1983), Forrest Gump (1994), the

Gen X: The Breakfast Club (1985), Reality Bites (1994),

Gen Y: The Social Network (2010), The Matrix (1999), The Lord of the Rings (2001), Harry Potter (2001), Twilight (2008), Juno (2008)

Valentin. Features an 8-year-old boy who lives with his grandmother, who dies. He makes friends with helpful adults. (Argentina, 2004)

 

Discussion Activities Chapter 4

Questions

  1. Can a person have too much self-esteem? Is Gen Y unrealistically self-confidant? What about cultures like Sweden where it’s not acceptable to stand out from the group?
  2. Some films portray youth self-centeredness as foolish, including most of the Gen Y characters in the HBO TV series Girls and the Indian film Dill Chatham Hay (2001). Some employers complain that Gen Y employees unrealistically expect to advance rapidly and be closely mentored. What do you notice?
  3. Globally, youth stand out as volunteers and social activists. How does this mesh with charges that they’re self-centered?
  4. Young people in developed countries are living longer with their parents as they extend their education and delay full-time employment. Professor Jeffrey Jensen Arnett thinks this time of freedom is a good advancement. What do you think?

Activities

Search the Internet for youth volunteers (http://www.unv.org/current-highlight/global-youth-service-day-2013.html, http://beta.gyvn.ca/) and social activists (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Youth_activism).

Films

See the HBO TV series Girls and the Indian film Dill Chatham Hay (2001). What makes them act foolishly? How are they different from the older generations they interact with, like their parents and bosses? Compare them with earlier shows about friends in their 20s, including Friends and Gray’s Anatomy.

Discussion Activities Chapter 5

Questions

  1. Do you agree or disagree that a materialistic focus on money has corrupted youth, corrupting them into “Generation Sell” with the personality and values of a salesperson?
  2. How do corporations and their media campaigns influence our values and behaviors?
  3. Most people can’t achieve the lifestyle shown on TV and movies, leading to frustration. Will this lead to positive change or resigned bitterness and escape into drugs and alcohol?
  4. The planet can’t sustain the current consumption of resources, let alone accommodate growing middle classes who want cars and meat. How can the planet be saved?
  5. A defining quality of youth today is closeness to their parents. Will this counter materialistic consumerism?

Activities

Analyze print ads and those on television to see how they manipulate viewers, as by making them feel inadequate and unhappy without consuming the product advertised.

Films

The Truman Show (1998) tells the story of a man who doesn’t know his life is a reality TV show. Fake media is fed to him to manipulate his thinking and prevent him from wanting to leave home.

The Joneses (2009) about “stealth marketers” who pretend to be a family.

Discussion Activities Chapter 6

Questions

  1. Some youth are being treated for addiction to electronic media as in China and the US. Does spending many hours a day in front of a screen interfere with youth’s ability to relate face-to-face?  Understanding of reality? Interfere physiologically with calm linear thinking?
  2. Deandra in Indonesia says she learns a lot from global media, some of which her parents would forbid. Does media interfere with local values and traditions? If so, what remedies would you suggest?
  3. Several Egyptian young women said global media gave them the courage to rebel against dictators and sexism. Is it accurate to say that the youth led revolutions that started with the Arab Spring in 2011 wouldn’t have happened without global media?
  4. Media created a new identity, a way of defining ourselves by what we buy and consume, such as clothing with brand logos or driving a certain brand of automobile. A Danish commentator said, “Tasteless youth culture rules all.” Do you agree or disagree? What do your consumption practices say about your identity?

Activities

Look through print media and at TV ads to see how they manipulate us into buying, as by making us feel inadequate without their product to make us more feminine or masculine.

Films

1. Look at Disney cartoons for examples of youth going against older tyrants as in The Lion King, Finding Nemo and Antz.

2. Listen to Manal al-Sharif discuss the impact of media on her revolution from traditional to advocate for women’s right to drive in Saudi Arabia.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=0PXXNK-3zQ4

3. See Jean Kilbourne’s Killing us Softly: Advertisings Image of Women (1979),  Still Killing Us Softly (1987), Spin the Bottle: Sex, Lies and Alcohol (2004), Slim Hopes: Advertising and the Obsession with Thinness (1995), and update with recent ad images. Study guides for the films and others are available online http://www.mediaed.org/assets/products/241/studyguide_241.pdf

4. See Miss Representation (2011) about how media portrays women in a way that keeps them from aspiring to power positions.

Discussion Activities Chapter 7

Questions

  1. Having everything given to you and decided for you leads to indifference explained Elena, an Italian teenager. What do you observe in families you know? Do you see helicopter parents and fragile teacups in action? Do you agree that some struggle and challenge is required when raising a child?
  2. A top priority for youth who can afford schooling is to get into a good university. Being a good student equates with good behavior, so can we accurately say that youth value most today is their educational success?
  3. Some scholars find that values change with the stages of economic development, from traditional and following the guidance of elders to modern individualism, relativism and secularism. Does this mean Karl Marx was correct that our economic setting shapes our beliefs?
    1. Is glocaiization, the hybrid blending of local and global cultures, happening around you? Some fault global culture for eradicating wonderful local traditions. What traditions carry on in your family? What do you observe among your family and friends?
    2. University student leaders said youth can be mediators between cultural tradition and cultural change. Agree or disagree? What direction are they taking us in terms of cultural change?
    3. Relationships seem to be the most important value for youth, along with doing good in the world. Do you see this value in action?

Activities

  1. Take the Cultural Creative quiz to see if you fit in this personality type (www.soulfulliving.com/culturalcreativequiz.htm). I identified with all the traits, do you?

Films

Outsourced. An unexceptional American film about an American man who is sent to manage Indian workers in a call center near Mumbai. He learns about the importance of time with family and other Indian traditions. (2006)

Margaret. A 17-year old girl in New York City who struggles with the moral ramifications of having witnessed an accident. (US, 2011)

 

Discussion Activities Chapter 8

Questions

  1. Sahar defines traditional values as focusing on “us” rather than “me.” Agree or disagree? What values have been passed on through the generations in your family? Do you see a hybrid blend as in Eri’s Mexican-American family?
  2. Rural people value taking time to socialize with family and neighbors, enjoying simple pleasures of drinking tea and conversation with friends. How much time do you and your family socialize face to face?
  3. African writer Maldoma Some’ faults modern values for materialistic obsession with work, being a slave to the economic “machine.” Keep a time diary for a week to see how you spend your time and if your focus matches your values.
  4. The main target of global youth activists is neoliberalism. Research its origins, application, and impact on social programs that help poor people.
  5. Youth are more family-friendly than previous generations, perhaps because economic struggles make relationships seem more trustworthy and important. What are your observations of young peoples’ relationships with their parents?

Activities

  1. Interview the oldest relatives or neighbors you can find about how values and lifestyles have changed since they were young. What surprises them about young people today?
  2. Keep a time diary of how you actually spend your time. The average teen in the US spends over seven hours a day in front of electronic media. How much time do you spend?

Films: Look for the contrast between traditional and modern values

Monday’s Girls (Nigeria, 1993)

Fools Rush In (US, 1997)

Leila (Iran, 1998)

Yi Yi, A One and a Two (Taiwan, 2006)

Wadja (Saudi Arabia, 2012)

Discussion Activities Chapter 9

Questions

  1. Many countries have official religions where the head of state is the head of the official church—likely to be Christian or Muslim (http://answers.yahoo.com/question/index?qid=20070521213521AATFY2P), while others have a tradition of atheism like China or separation of church and state like the US. In the survey of 15,000 global youth leaders cited in the chapter, 61% affirmed the separation of church and state, which of course means over one-third favor a national religion. What implications does this have for international relations?
  2. Youth tend to be less religious in the sense of attending religious services in developed countries compared to youth in developing and emerging nations. Could this trend be connected with a distrust of old bureaucratic institutions?
  3. Islam dominates world news with fighting between Sunni and Shia, young terrorist suicide bombers, fears of Taliban resurgence in Afghanistan, the Muslim Brotherhood versus the military in Egypt, etc. A website outlines jihad movements around the world (http://islamic-world.net/youth/jihad.htm). What can you find to explain these conflicts? How much has to do with frustration with poverty and unemployment?
  4. Religions generally share a belief in a higher dimension and the continuation of the soul after death. Some youth share this belief and some look to science to answer their questions. Where do you fit in this continuum of belief?
  5. Compare and contrast the points of view expressed by young people with different religious affiliation as revealed in quotations in the chapter.

Activities

  1. See if can name countries with an official religion in an online quiz (http://www.sporcle.com/games/anAmatuer/nationrelig)
  2. Attend religious services at a local mosque, synagogue, temple and church to learn about their message and how they convey them to the congregations. Do they have youth groups?
  3. Compare and contrast youth and religion websites (http://youthandreligion.nd.edu/related-resources/miscellaneous-youth-and-religion-sites links to Christian and Jewish sites).

““`www.muslimyouth.net for Muslim youth

Films

Observe religious fundamentalism in

Water. About exploitation of Hindu child widows abandoned by their families in India during the time of Gandhi in the 1930s. 2005 the same writer/director made Fire (1996) and Earth (1998). A book describing the challenges from Hindu leaders while making Water is titled Shooting Water by the director’s daughter.

The documentary Jerusalem follows three teen girls in Jerusalem, Jewish, Christian and Muslim. (Israel, 2013)

Au Revoir Les Enfants. Tells the story of three Jewish boys who are taken from their school by the Nazis in 1944.  (France, 1987)

The Devil’s Playground.  A documentary about Amish youth who are brought up in a restricted environment (no education past 8th grade, no cars). When they’re 16 they’re turned loose to experience all the decadent delights the world has to offer, including drugs, sex, drinking, and cars. Then they have to decide if they want to give it all up and become Amish for the rest of their lives, or try to make it on their own (with no education and no family support of any kind) in the outside world. (US, 2002)

Discussion Activities Chapter 10

Questions

  1. What’s the difference between being religious or spiritual according to SpeakOut youth? To you?
  2. Many youth quoted in the chapter have an eclectic view of spirituality, drawing from Hindu deep breathing practices, yoga and the notion of karma; Buddhist meditation; and New Thought belief in the power of positive thinking developed in the US in the 19th century in churches like Unity and the Church of Religious Science. Is the wave of the future a hybrid global spirituality? If so, is that a good or bad development?
  3. Were you surprised that youth accused of being materialistic were so interested in the meaning of life and the afterlife?
  4. Some young people view human behavior as insane, cynics in the “post-everything era of the absurd,” existentialists who don’t believe in a spiritual meaning. They’re in the minority according to global surveys. Why?
  5. Youth’s emphasis on good works rather than faith repeats themes of the Protestant Reformation when a Catholic priest named Martin Luther (1483 to 1546) left the Catholic Church. He said that good works couldn’t earn salvation as that depended on God’s grace through faith in Jesus as the source of redemption. Does that mean youth today have less faith than previous generations?

Activities

  1. Participate in a meditation session and explore an online labyrinth (www.labyrinth.org.uk/onlinelabyrinthpage1.html)

Films

Life of Pi. A popular film about a teenage Indian boy who survives being shipwrecked in a boat with a tiger. The first-time actor who plays Pi is 17-year-old Suraj Sharma from New Delhi. It explores the idea that there are multiple ways to look at philosophical questions and religion. 2012

Mongolian Ping Pong. Boys find a ping-pong ball in a creek and think it has magical special powers. Mongolia, 2005

 

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