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Lost Histories of Youth Culture

by Christine Feldman-Barrett (Volume editor)
©2015 Monographs VIII, 247 Pages
Series: Mediated Youth, Volume 22

Summary

Young people and their activities always have been a part of history – yet such narratives have remained mostly untold and often lost in the sands of time. This unprecedented and international collection sheds light on youth’s hidden histories from the nineteenth century to the early twenty-first century: whether from the American Civil War, Maoist China, postcolonial Greenland, or contemporary Iran. These tales of leisure, identity, and belonging take readers into the heart of youth history and uncover heretofore unrecognized cultural contributions that young people have made across time and throughout the world.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the author(s)/editor(s)
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Table of Contents
  • Acknowledgments
  • Introduction: Youth Histories Lost and Found
  • YOUTH AND CULTURE: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
  • SEARCHING FOR LOST HISTORIES OF YOUTH CULTURE
  • REFERENCES
  • Part One: Leisure and Lifestyle
  • Chapter One: “My Unsocial Habit”: Reading and Emergent Youth Subcultures in Civil War America
  • LITERARY DIVERSION
  • SUBVERSIVE READING
  • ESCAPISM AND CLOISTERING
  • ETHNIC NEGOTIATIONS AND SOLITARY READING
  • CONCLUSION
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Two: Beijing Youth Fashions from Red Guards to Rock Fans, 1966–1989
  • POLITICAL CAMPAIGNS AND YOUTH FASHION
  • ECONOMIC DEVELOPMENT AND YOUTH FASHION
  • GLOBALIZATION AND YOUTH FASHION
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Three: “Fade to Grey”: The Forgotten History of the British New Romantic Movement
  • ENGLAND DREAMING AGAIN?
  • NEW ROMANTIC AND THE MEDIA
  • A FORGOTTEN MOMENT IN BRITISH YOUTH CULTURE
  • RETHINKING NEW ROMANTIC
  • CONCLUSION
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Four: Searching for Greenland’s Youth Culture Before the Internet Age
  • GREENLAND’S SOCIO-HISTORIC CONTEXT: FROM COLONIZATION TO HOME RULE GOVERNMENT
  • IDENTITY FORMATION AND THE ROLE OF MEDIATED CULTURE
  • Oral Traditions: From Storytelling to Music-Making
  • Print Media
  • Television
  • THE INTERNET: A NOTE ON HOW IT CHANGED GREENLANDIC CULTURE
  • “POINTS OF IMPACT” IN GREENLAND’S YOUTH CULTURE HISTORY
  • Sume, Music and Poems: The 1970s
  • YOUTH AND THE FOREIGN MEDIA CONTENT DURING THE 1980S AND EARLY 1990S
  • Film
  • CONCLUSION: UNCOVERING “OFFLINE” GREENLANDIC YOUTH CULTURE
  • REFERENCES
  • Part Two: Identity and Community
  • Chapter Five: Lost Province of German Youth: Remembering East Prussia’s Last Generation
  • LOCATING THE “LOST PROVINCE”: WHERE AND WHAT WAS EAST PRUSSIA?
  • CONFORMITY, REBELLION, AND RESISTENZ: GERMAN YOUTH DURING THE THIRD REICH
  • EAST PRUSSIAN YOUTH: THE LAST GENERATION’S LOST HISTORY
  • CONCLUSION: ON RECOVERING THE LOST VOICES OF EAST PRUSSIAN YOUTH
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Six: “I Turn into a Pink Dolphin”: Apurinã Youth, Awiri, and Encounters with the Unseen
  • UNDERSTANDING THE APURINã SOCIO-COSMOS
  • PLANT SPIRITS AND GENERATIONAL INHERITANCE
  • LEARNING TO DREAM
  • APURINã TEMPORALITY AND “FIRMNESS”
  • CONCLUSIONS: DISCOVERING A HIDDEN YOUTH CULTURE
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Seven: Queering Tehran: Discovering Gay Rap in Iran
  • IRANIAN AND QUEER: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
  • IRANIAN POPULAR MUSIC: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW
  • “THE INVISIBLE MEN” OF IRANIAN HIP-HOP
  • THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING TALKED ABOUT: A CONCLUSION
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Eight: Youth, Athletics, and the Construction of Kalenjin Identities in Postcolonial Kenya
  • KENYAN HISTORY: AN OVERVIEW
  • THE POLITICS OF SPORTS: SOME THEORETICAL ISSUES
  • KENYA’S COMPETITIVE YOUTH ATHLETICS: THE EXAMPLE OF TRACK AND FIELD
  • YOUTH IN THE TRIBE: ATHLETICS AND ETHNIC CONSCIOUSNESS
  • KASS INTERNATIONAL MARATHON AND KASS FM
  • RUNNING FOR DUAL CITIZENSHIP: FROM ETHNO-NATIONAL TO TRANSNATIONAL STATUS
  • CONCLUSION
  • REFERENCES
  • Part Three: Politics and Nation
  • Chapter Nine: The “Young Canada” Project: Youth and Nation-Building from 1867 to 1900
  • MEANINGS OF YOUTH AND “BECOMING ADULT”
  • YOUTH, CHARACTER-BUILDING, AND NATION-BUILDING
  • CONCLUSION: AGE, GENERATION, NATION
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Ten: The Nikkeijin Underground in Japanese Extreme Metal
  • WHO ARE THE NIKKEIJIN?
  • NIKKEIJIN EXTREME METAL
  • Metal’s Japanese History
  • METAL IN JAPAN AND YAMATO DAMASHî
  • NIKKEIJIN EXTREME METAL IN JAPAN
  • NIKKEIJIN EXTREME METAL AND MINORITARIAN BELONGING
  • NIKKEIJIN METAL: LANGUAGE AFFECTED BY DETERRITORIALIZATION
  • NIKKEIJIN METAL AS POLITICAL
  • NIKKEIJIN METAL AS A COLLECTIVE
  • CONCLUSION
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Eleven: Emergent Youth Culture in 19th-Century India: A View from Colonial Bengal
  • “YOUTHSCAPES” OF 19TH-CENTURY BENGAL
  • YOUTH IN BENGALI PRINT CULTURE
  • CONCLUSION
  • REFERENCES
  • Chapter Twelve: Divergences and Divisions in Contemporary Spain’s Political Youth Activism
  • PROLOGUE: A NIGHT ON AVENUE DIAGONAL
  • “NO FUTURE”: YOUTH AND THE PRECARIAT IN SPAIN
  • CHRONOTOPICAL EVENTS AND YOUTH POLITICAL ACTIVISM IN CONTEMPORARY SPAIN
  • POLITICAL YOUTH CHRONOTOPES IN CONTEMPORARY SPAIN
  • Chronotope 1: World Bank Summit in Barcelona (2001)
  • Chronotope 2: Protests against the Iraq War (2003)
  • Chronotope 3: Anti-Bologna Student Protests (2008–2009)
  • Chronotope 4: Youth in General Strikes in Bailout Spain (2010)
  • Chronotope 5: Losing the Indignados Movement to History (2011)
  • FINAL REMARKS
  • POSTSCRIPT
  • REFERENCES
  • About the Authors
  • Index

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Acknowledgments

As the now-popular saying goes, “It takes a village to raise a child.” This publication, one of my “literary offspring,” did take a global village to grow from an idea to a reality. From my computer in Queensland, Australia, I have had the pleasure of working with quality scholars from around the world who have put many hours of research, writing, and overall thoughtfulness into crafting a “lost history.” I am delighted that they have been part of this project. Moreover, a very big thank you goes out to my editors Sharon Mazzarella and Mary Savigar at Peter Lang for believing in the concept of this book and for always offering me such excellent advice. I would also like to thank both Griffith University’s Susan Forde and the Griffith Centre for Cultural Research for giving me the extra time and funding, respectively, to finish this book. I am extremely grateful to Andy Bennett, Ronald J. Zboray, and Mary Saracino Zboray for their continued mentorship and wisdom. Adele Pavlidis and Michelle Smith were also very helpful in providing me with needed tips and feedback in varying, insightful ways.

Most importantly, I want to acknowledge my supportive and patient husband, Richard Barrett. Thanks, Richard, for always reminding me of the “big picture” when the little things seem to get in the way.

Swapna M. Banerjee would like to thank Christine Feldman-Barrett for her extensive feedback on her chapter. Cynthia Comacchio wishes to thank the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada and the research office at Wilfrid Laurier University for their continued support. Carles Feixa, José Sánchez ← VII | VIII → García, and Jordi Nofre want to acknowledge that their chapter is part of a 2013–2015 research project, “The Indignant Generation. Space, Power and Culture in the Youth Movement of 2011: A Transnational Perspective (GENIND),” which has been funded by the Spanish Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness (CSO2012-34415). Godwin Siundu thanks Peter Odongo for arranging inter­views with officials at the Athletics Kenya offices in Nairobi and for his re­source­fulness in accessing reference materials from the Jomo Kenyatta Memorial Library. Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen would like to thank Christine Feldman-Barrett, Vanessa Grotti, and Laura Pérez Gil for their helpful feedback. She is also grateful to the Finnish Academy project, “New Native Leaderships and Forms of Power in Amazonia,” and the project, “Transforming the Future in Brazil: Ritual and Indigenous Agencies,” funded by Research Funds of Helsinki University. Most of all, she is indebted to the Apurinã community of the Tumiã River region. Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray would like to thank the National Endowment for the Humanities for providing Ronald J. Zboray with a full-year fellowship in 2012 for the purpose of working on a larger project, of which this book chapter is a part.

—Christine Feldman-Barrett

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Introduction

Youth Histories Lost and Found

CHRISTINE FELDMAN-BARRETT

In 1974, a series of books was published on the history of youth: Anthony Esler’s The Youth Revolution, John R. Gillis’s Youth and History, and Friedrich Heer’s The Challenge of Youth. Not long after, in early 1975, historian K. H. Jarausch, then a faculty member at the University of Missouri, wrote a book review for these three publications entitled “Restoring Youth to Its Own History.” Not overwhelmingly impressed with any of the books, Jarausch nonetheless wondered if “youth history is here to stay or whether it is one of the many faddish waves that is fated to disappear in the sands of time” (p. 445). Coming out of the 1960s, with all the youth-centric focus that the decade commandeered, it is unsurprising that the topic of youth and its accompanying political movements and styles would still be on the minds of many adults during the early to mid-1970s. Jarausch’s review draws attention to the fact that young people, though always integral players within the human experience, mostly were ignored as active participants in both the dramas and everyday narratives of history.

One might say that the history of youth, let alone that of “youth culture,” had been hidden—indeed lost—for decades, if not centuries, before being found. Forty years after these books were published, more attention continues to be paid to contemporary youths rather than to the young people (and their experiences) from decades and centuries past—even though there are many scholars from ← 1 | 2 → various disciplines who examine young people and/or their cultural activities. There are exceptions, of course: most notably Savage’s 2007 book, Teenage: The Creation of Youth Culture, 1875–1945, which he describes as “the prehistory of the Teenager” (p. xiii). Similarly, Austin and Willard’s 1998 book showcases narratives of youth culture history, but their focus is specific to 20th-century America. Perhaps because the nature of (biological) youth itself is fleeting and finite, researchers have attempted to capture “lightning in a bottle” and identify aspects of youth identity and lifestyle both in the moment and in the making. However, given that the term teenager is itself 70 years old, perhaps it is now finally time to “restor[e] youth to its own history” (Jarausch, 1975, p. 445).

In taking on this task, we must first ask the question, “But what is youth’s own history?” In doing so, a few crucial ideas begin to emerge. First, just as with notions of history writ large, it is important to acknowledge that there are many histories and narratives that either emerge over time or are lost to the recesses of the past. In examining youth culture as a set of histories, rather than trying to fit multiple narratives into one, totalizing history, means that this volume remains true to what social and cultural historians have done over the past several decades. As Stearns (2008) writes, “In the early days of the ‘new’ social history, much ink was spilled about writing the history of the inarticulate…whatever might shed some light on the largely unfamiliar pasts of the lower classes, slaves, and women” (p. 36). Similarly, scholars interested in sharing narratives of youth culture have sought to access a broad array of primary sources in order to best reconstruct such stories (Eskola, 1996; Feldman, 2009; Savage, 2007).

This search for lost histories of youth culture, 12 of which have landed in this collection, also owes a debt to the lingering influence of the new historicism. While no longer “new,” this scholarly approach encourages those from different disciplines to reflect upon cultural history as a montage of discrete moments in time that offers a potentially endless treasure trove of stories. With new historicism as a theoretical framing mechanism or as a guide to understanding the past, scholars are privy to “a historicism based on material gathered from the anecdotal and the vernacular [that] is more richly endowed in the details of history than are monolithic historical constructs” (Kaes, 1992, p. 154). These views of history and historical research are extremely useful when applied to studying youth culture itself—not least because the multivalent nature of both social history and new historicism allows room for innovative, interdisciplinary approaches to studying the extremely diverse pasts of young people’s lives. To overtly place youth within the greater narratives of history while also highlighting their various “cultures” also asks us to consider the ways in which youth culture has been chronicled and historicized so far. It is in understanding what narratives have been included in or excluded from history’s multifaceted pageant that one can begin to appreciate what stories have been hidden or lost. ← 2 | 3 →

YOUTH AND CULTURE: A HISTORICAL OVERVIEW

Arguably, almost all of human history prior to the modern period—during which time life expectancy was short—was a “history of youth.” Certainly, by today’s standards, if people generally only lived into their mid-30s, “youth” was the sum total of many human beings’ lives (Gillis, 1974, p. 10). Clearly, though, this notion of youth is a modern one and speaks to how biological youth, youth cultures, and “youthfulness” can share hazy boundaries in contemporary society (Bennett & Hodkinson, 2012). Nonetheless—albeit in a mostly Western context—some scholars have recognized youth’s cultural contributions prior to the modern era. Moller (1968) argues that the Protestant Reformation was a youth-driven phenomenon, given the ages of the many Wittenberg University scholars involved with this religious upheaval. Moving back in time to the European Middle Ages, Dickson (2009) suggests that the Children’s Crusade, which began in 1212, was “medieval Europe’s first youth movement” (p. 315). Davis (1971) identifies the Abbeys of Misrule in 16th-century France as organizations comprised of mostly young, unmarried men. Akin to a band of court jesters, the Abbeys’ members played important roles in festivals and carnivals across the country. Overall, many insights into young people’s lives prior to the modern era are linked to religion—the main cultural force of the day. Additionally, there are discussions regarding preparation for marriage and, if not focusing on nobility, narratives about apprenticeships (Barnhouse, 2006; Goldberg & Riddy, 2004; Lewis, 1999). Given the lack of scholarship beyond such themes, much remains unknown about premodern youth. For example, a sense of young people’s leisure practices during these several centuries of history remains mysterious.

Themes of religion, development into adulthood, and entry into working life continue to be featured in scholarship about youth during the early modern period. The effects of industrialization and urbanization are important to this discourse. Gillis (1974) and Mitterauer (1986) address youth trajectories in education and careers in light of the transition from a mostly agrarian world to an urbanized society. Both also couch many of their findings within a framework that emphasizes youth as a period of both physical and psychological maturation. By focusing on “youth development,” both histories show the influence of Hall’s 1904 landmark book on adolescence as well as Ariès’s work (1965) on childhood and family relations. Thus Gillis and Mitterauer mostly provide insights into the place of young people in their communities but only rare glimpses into individual identity, leisure practices, or lifestyles.

These authors do, however, mention some aspects of youths’ cultural lives. Mitterauer (1986) acknowledges that young English elites were often privileged with European travel via the Grand Tour, which allowed them to visit famous sites while hobnobbing with wealthy families there. Additionally, he references ← 3 | 4 → young people’s involvement with religious and seasonal festivals and celebrations. Gillis (1974) also mentions the importance of festivals for the young and, since his book focuses on youth in both England and Germany, also includes discussions of the trade-oriented German Wanderjahr (work experience via tramping) and the importance of various fraternal, student- or trade-motivated youth groups in towns and villages. Meanwhile, Mueller (2013) supplies a view into the world of 18th-century Kindertruppen, who were “wandering troupes of young singers, actors and dancers who performed in the court and commercial theatres of Europe” (p. 65). Still, her history highlights an unusual rather than commonplace cultural activity among this epoch’s young.

Some scholars point to young people’s growing interest in politics, as this era gave way to the modern period. Alongside his claim that the Protestant Reformation was a “youth movement,” Moller (1968) also contends that young people were at the forefront of the French Revolution. Moreover, “the explosion of revolutionary, warlike, nationalist, and anti-imperialist (i.e., anti-French) activity toward the end of the 18th century and in the early 19th century received its social fuel from the large cohorts of ‘Europe’s initial population explosion’” (p. 241). In the late 18th century, and just prior to this shift, the German Romantic Movement influenced attitudes of youth such that the term Sturm und Drang (“Storm and Stress”) would remain a salient one for and among the young for centuries to come (Gillis, 1974; Lütkemeyer, 2004). Ostensibly, this ethos—which also affected other nations’ young Romantics—translated into emotional, if then turbulent, political allegiances. In terms of nation- or empire-building, some scholarship also shows how young people—both settlers and slaves—experienced colonialism in either its most empowering or disempowering dimensions (Argenti & Röschenthaler, 2006; King, 1995; Thompson, 1984). Given the increasing effects of modernization during this period, especially with regard to urbanization and continued industrialization, this also is the historic moment when notions of social class take center stage, more forcefully dividing youth along class lines (Boone 2005; Hopkins, 2000; Pooley & Pooley, 2010). This is evident through popular visions of Dickensian “artful dodgers” and the street gangs in Victorian England: these were impoverished or working-class youths whose 20th-century equivalents would be described as “juvenile delinquents” (Boone, 2005; Davies, 1998). In Australia—then still part of the British Empire—similarly “tough” occupiers of urban streets, known as larrikins, were another manifestation of this period’s working-class youth cultures. Bellanta’s (2012) definitive work on this group depicts how aspects of dress sense or “style” were important to both male and female larrikins. Considering Hebdige’s (1979) assessment of “subcultures” a century later, the larrikins’ overt interest in stylish comportment arguably makes them one of the earliest bona fide subcultures to exist.

While Western, working-class youths took to the streets and began distinguishing themselves as distinct cohorts with their own fashions and, oftentimes, ← 4 | 5 → slang, conceptions of 19th-century middle- to upper-class young people (and their cultural activities) often are linked to the youth-oriented literature of the time, as reading for pleasure was encouraged. The cultures of Victorian boyhood and girlhood in the British Empire are often examined today through this literary lens and the adherent reading practices among this group (MacDonald, 1989; Smith, 2009). These youths were also sometimes interested in banding together as a method for creating cultural activities beyond parental authority. Notably, this was evident in Germany’s Wandervogel, who would escape “adult” city culture by hiking through the countryside while dressing up in medieval-style clothing and playing equally antique instruments (Helwig, 1998).

Many 19th-century youths in Western or colonized countries also benefited from the growth of new media and their content. At the start of the century, youths—again depending on their social class—would have been exposed primarily to print media such as books (both novels and nonfiction) and newspapers (Selwyn, 1999; Zboray & Zboray, 2006). By mid-century, a variety of general readership and specialized “youth” magazines also offered young people additional forms of information and entertainment (Dawson, 1996; MacDonald, 1989; Price & Smith, 1995). By century’s end, youths in some countries could also include trips to the nickelodeons (early movie theaters) among their leisure practices (Savage, 2007; Sullivan, 2010).

This relationship between young people and media strengthened exponentially in the 20th century, and it remains a defining aspect of today’s youth culture. Popular music’s mediation and ascending influence on young people’s hearts, minds, and nimble legs began with gramophones in the early part of the century. It achieved additional reach and became more thoroughly a part of “youth culture” with commercial radio by the 1920s (Butsch, 1998; Gabrielsson, 2011).

An early example of youth being wowed by recorded popular music is that of the jazz-crazed flappers. Although American-born jazz quickly became incredibly popular with both male and female youth in Europe and later in other parts of the world, the iconic figure of the “flapper” was resolutely female. As such, the flappers were likely the first female-driven “youth subculture” of the 20th century. With their short, bobbed hair, low-waisted dresses, and a taste for alcohol and cigarettes, these “jazz babies” and their male companions were arguably the first truly modern (and highly mediated) youth culture in history (Fass, 1977). While it has been suggested that this Jazz Age youth phenomenon was a reaction to the horrors of World War I, to which a generation of young men had sacrificed either their youthful ideals or their lives, the latter part of the decade through to the start of World War II was marked by the rise of militarism in Europe, especially in Germany and Italy. This was also the era of the Great Depression. Given the harshness of the times, this period is not one that has received much attention when chronicling youth culture. What literature there is speaks to the power, ← 5 | 6 → once again, of mediated popular culture such as recorded music, radio, and film (Franzén, 2002; Osgerby, 2004).

Unlike the period 1929–1939, there is much more scholarship about what youth was doing during World War II. As in battles from time immemorial, older teenaged and young adult men served as both pawns and players in the war. Younger teenagers either chose or, in the case of Nazi Germany, were enlisted to participate in youth groups that supported the country’s ideologies and attitudes toward the war (Kater, 2004; Savage, 2007). Meanwhile, teenage girls and young women were asked to support their country’s war effort. Female American college students, for instance, took “victory pledges,” while some women took on “men’s work” in factories (or within other sectors of employment). Meanwhile, others entertained the troops (Mandel & Sinclair, 2010; Tucker, 2000; Weaks-Baxter, Bruun, & Forslund, 2010). Generally, media-oriented leisure still loomed large in young people’s lifestyles. Radio continued as an important entertainment source, which offered both the broadcasting of popular music and dramatic or comedic programs. Moreover, the early 1940s is often considered a golden era for cinema, especially for the films produced in Hollywood, which gained traction around the globe and soon would be blamed for the “Americanization” of the world’s youth (Fehrenbach & Poiger, 2000; Schildt & Siegfried, 2006).

For many readers, it should come as no surprise that the most recognizable eras of youth culture are those from the postwar period. This is undoubtedly because the 1944 coining of the word teenager, and all its connotations, created stronger divisions between what was “adult” versus “youth” culture (Palladino, 1996). This was assisted by a surge in postwar prosperity in many developed countries, which then prompted businesses and market researchers to examine this new and eager-to-spend demographic group (Osgerby, 2004). More than in any previous era, all manner of products were geared toward youth. From the 1950s onward, there were “youth fashions,” “youth music,” and “youth movies.” No wonder that “the birth of youth culture” has been pinned to this immediate postwar period (Savage, 2007). Finally, it seemed that young people were sitting in the front row of history. This youth-centric view of culture would take on new meanings during the 1960s, which benefitted from the large “baby boom” generation. This was when young people identified as Mods, Rockers, and Hippies in many parts of the world: it was the decade of both the Beatles and the youth counterculture (Marwick, 1998). It is easy to understand why, a decade later at the University of Birmingham, when British sociologists began writing about youth subcultures, they would attend to groups like the Teddy Boys and Mods, both of whom had emerged in the postwar period (Hall & Jefferson, 1975).

Today’s understanding of youth culture is based primarily on this accelerated youth-centric focus of the 1950s and 1960s. Because those decades have been depicted as populated by young people with specific youth identities shaped by ← 6 | 7 → music and style, it has become challenging to envision youth culture history as something more than a trajectory of youth subcultures. Attention to youth subcultures is reflected in much of today’s youth culture scholarship. This literature is dominated by theoretical musings and ethnographic forays into subcultures that have appeared since then: Punks, Goths, Hip-Hoppers, Ravers, Indie Rockers, and, more recently, Emos (see, e.g., Hebdige, 1979; Hodkinson, 2002; Peters, 2010; Rose, 1994). In the postmodern and retrospectively oriented late 1990s and early 2000s, Muggleton (2000) and others offered viewpoints that helped move youth culture discourse beyond this subcultural paradigm (Bennett & Kahn-Harris, 2004; Muggleton & Weinzierl, 2003).

Young people who embrace the classic youth subcultures of Mods, Rockers, Hippies, Punks, Hip-Hoppers, and so on, still remain visible in many parts of the world today. This has prompted some to research how youth culture is now part of cultural globalization processes facilitated by digital media and international travel (Nayak, 2003; Nilan & Feixa, 2006). Certainly, the biggest change to youth culture during the late 20th century was the rise of the Internet and all of the entertainment and social networking that now has developed from this technology. Virtual spaces have allowed all sorts of youth identities and communities to emerge, most of which are true to the “trans-local” realities of today’s globalized world, whether offline or online (Buckingham, Bragg, & Kehily, 2014; Mazzarella, 2010). Importantly, and just as in eras prior to World War II, there are some youths today who identify with their culture’s mainstream values and do not subscribe to anything subcultural or “alternative.” As in previous periods, youth culture for some young people may be linked to community norms and pastimes equal to those of their parents: media-oriented leisure (reading books or surfing the Internet), sports, travel, religion, or outdoor activities (Furlong, 2009; Palladino, 1996). These young people are just as much a part of youth culture history as their subcultural counterparts.

As this historical view of youth culture demonstrates, it is challenging to gain a comprehensive understanding of “youth worlds” the further back in time one goes. There are still many gaps remaining in knowledge about adolescents, teenagers, and young adults from the medieval to early modern periods. This is likely due to a less robust spectrum of documentation available. Additionally, the current English-language literature shows a major bias toward the histories of Western countries, particularly favoring the United Kingdom and the United States. While more scholarship has emerged about non-Western youth, which is contextualized within notions of a “global youth culture,” there are still fewer publications about young people in the so-called Global South (Hansen & Dalsgaard, 2008; Ntarangwi, 2009). In addition, the existence of and scholarly attention to music-oriented youth subcultures has long held sway over the concept of youth culture. Because youth culture often has been conflated with the ← 7 | 8 → term youth subcultures, due in large part to work done by the 1970s-era British Birmingham School scholars, it is obvious that a particular and temporally limited history has existed for quite some time. Furthermore, social historians from the 1970s onward, like those mentioned at the start of this Introduction, have foregrounded traditional coming-of-age tropes while downplaying culture when examining young people prior to the 20th century. Given the limitations of such views of youth culture history, it is easy to see how many narratives have been obscured, hidden, or lost.

SEARCHING FOR LOST HISTORIES OF YOUTH CULTURE

The aim of this book is to provide a collection of youth culture narratives that underscore the notion that moments, stories, and phenomena sometimes set adrift within the passage of time are not necessarily lost forever. This collection’s appearance is also inspired by an interest in the broader sweep of youth culture history that has been gaining momentum more recently. For instance, in 2008 the academic, peer-reviewed Journal of the History of Childhood and Youth appeared on the scholarly scene. It has published articles on topics as diverse as schooling in England during the Middle Ages, the 19th-century Russian Cadet Corps, and the birth of teenage bedroom culture in post-World War II America (Friedman, 2012; Orme, 2008; Reid, 2012). Although there have been publications of historic substance in youth-oriented journals (Eskola, 1996; González, 2012; Mooney, 2005) and youth-oriented articles in history journals (Loewenberg, 1971; Risch, 2005; Waller, 2006), the emergence of a journal dedicated to the topic itself is something new. And, while both monographs and collected volumes on youth culture histories have appeared occasionally, they usually have focused on either just one country’s history (Austin & Willard, 1998; Fowler, 2008; Roseman, 1995) or histories of Western nations (Savage, 2007; Schildt & Siegfried, 2006). In this respect, the connection between “youth culture” and “history” still might be considered a scholarly acquaintanceship rather than an intimate relationship. While this book is not and cannot be exhaustive, it serves as an invitation for others to think more broadly about what youth culture history is and who and what have been included and excluded. It also asks readers to think about youth culture history as always already international.

The chapters in this collection are “lost histories” because they share narratives that either counter more familiar ideas about youth during particular eras and/or in geographic locations or fill gaps within the more well-covered areas in youth culture studies. Several chapters, for example, illuminate national realities that are likely unknown to many readers due to their non-Western provenance. While a 12-chapter volume cannot include histories from every country, this collection ← 8 | 9 → nonetheless offers an array of narratives from around the world. Furthermore, given that this book is part of a series about “mediated youth,” preference has been given to histories situated in either the modern or contemporary periods—epochs in which young people developed leisure practices, identities, and personal or political ideologies often linked to media. The essays are organized topically in three sections: Part One: Leisure and Lifestyle, Part Two: Identity and Community, and Part Three: Politics and Nation. While the chapters chronicle the rare, hidden, or unusual, the book’s structure allows for reassuringly familiar themes to accompany readers down the rabbit hole into unexplored, wondrous terrains.

The chapters in Part One examine lost histories of youth fashion, popular music, and media-oriented activities. Print media historians Ronald J. Zboray and Mary Saracino Zboray offer fascinating insight into reading practices among youth during the American Civil War. Based on extensive study of rare primary sources, the authors show how both reading and choice of texts reflected and shaped these young Americans’ political, cultural, and individual ideals during wartime. Chinese studies scholar Paul Clark invites readers to consider what “youth fashion” has meant beyond the Western paradigm by examining how young Chinese—specifically Beijingers—have expressed themselves through style. While his chapter spans 1966 to 1989, it is especially intriguing to discover that Maoist-era youth, while appearing quite uniform in their look, did make specific sartorial statements through their clothing choices. Sociologist Andy Bennett delves into the rarefied realm of 1980s New Romantic, one of the remaining 20th-century British youth subcultures yet to receive scholarly attention. Though articles about denizens of this cohort’s most famous club night, the Blitz, have recently appeared, and a film about the career of the New Romantic band Spandau Ballet debuted in March 2014, Bennett’s chapter fills a gap in this otherwise more familiar stream of youth culture scholarship (Elms, 2012; Rooney, 2014). Finally, media studies scholar Jette Rygaard takes us to isolated Greenland. She introduces readers to Greenlandic culture and history by way of several media-oriented youth activities prior to the Internet’s expansive, world-opening influence there. By examining young people’s pastimes as connected to print media, popular music, and TV from the early 1970s to the mid-1990s, an otherwise lost history of a remote nation is revealed.

The chapters in Part Two depict how notions of belonging and/or exclusion have shaped these particular lost histories. Sociologist and cultural historian Christine Feldman-Barrett helps readers to discover both the lost German province of East Prussia (now either Russian or Polish following World War II) and the last generation of young people to live there. While narratives of both Hitler Youth and anti-Nazi subcultures are more plentiful, the story of this population of German youths and their experiences before and during the war has remained mostly unknown. Anthropologist Pirjo Kristiina Virtanen takes readers into the Brazilian Amazon. Her account of the Apurinã youth and their ritualistic use of ← 9 | 10 → the dream-inducing Awiri snuff provide a counternarrative to many studies of young people’s drug use in Western countries. It also acts as a foil to the recently fashionable narratives about ayahuasca use (spiritual and touristic) in both the Peruvian and Brazilian Amazon (Holman, 2011; Winkelman, 2005). Elham Golpush-Nezhad, currently a Griffith University doctoral student in sociology, depicts the seemingly impossible existence of Iran’s gay Hip-Hop scene. Regarding a country that imposes the death penalty on known homosexuals, Golpush-Nezhad compares Iran’s culturally historical attitudes toward same-sex desire with today’s necessarily underground scene. Meanwhile, literary and cultural studies scholar Godwin Siundu illuminates the political realities and discourses of identity that young track athletes have long faced in postcolonial Kenya. He carefully positions youth—particularly young athletes who identify as Kalenjin—as essential, if sometimes unwitting, players in circumstances that pit tribally specific identities against each other.

Part Three considers how young people have been involved in political narratives in heretofore less-documented ways. Historian Cynthia R. Comacchio charts the trajectory of young Canadians’ cultural experiences during the earliest years of “Dominion,” or independence from Britain. Comacchio looks at numerous youth-oriented publications that informed and shaped young people during an intense governmental quest for a postcolonial identity. Media scholar Rosemary Overell reveals how sensibilities surrounding politics and nation can merge within popular music. Her chapter on a subset of Japanese extreme-metal bands illustrates how a politicized identity has manifested among ethnically Japanese South American musicians living and working in Japan. This discussion of “minoritarian belonging” shows how transnational realities continue contesting with more traditional notions of Japanese identity. Literary scholar Swapna Banerjee then whisks us back to 19th-century colonial Bengal where educated middle-class youth communities both created and responded to print media content in ways that eventually would inform the fight against British rule. Finally, anthropologists Carles Feixa and José Sánchez García and cultural geographer Jordi Nofre offer a localized view of contemporary political activism among Spanish youth. Instead of focusing on the more anarchistic, radical protests of decades past, these authors show how neoliberalism has not only affected Spanish government policies but also the methods and approach that many Spanish—specifically Catalan—youth employ in making their voices heard.

Details

Pages
VIII, 247
Year
2015
ISBN (PDF)
9781453914885
ISBN (ePUB)
9781454198024
ISBN (MOBI)
9781454198017
ISBN (Softcover)
9781433123443
ISBN (Hardcover)
9781433123450
DOI
10.3726/978-1-4539-1488-5
Language
English
Publication date
2014 (August)
Keywords
Untold story hidden history youth social history American Civil War Maoist china
Published
New York, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, Oxford, Wien, 2015. VIII, 247 pp.

Biographical notes

Christine Feldman-Barrett (Volume editor)

Christine Feldman-Barrett is Lecturer in Sociology at Griffith University. She was a Fulbright Scholar at the University of Hamburg between 2006 and 2007 and is the author of We Are the Mods: A Transnational History of a Youth Subculture (Peter Lang, 2009).

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Title: Lost Histories of Youth Culture