Preface by Paul Willis
This reader begins a conversation about the many aspects of critical youth studies. Chapters in this volume consider essential issues such as class, gender, sexuality, race, ethnicity, cultural capital, and schooling in creating a dialogue about and a conversation with youth. In a society that continues to devalue, demonize, and pathologize young women and men, leading names in the academy and youth communities argue that traditional studies of youth do not consider young people themselves. Engaging with today’s young adults in formal and informal pedagogical settings as an act of respect, social justice, and transgression creates a critical pedagogical path in which to establish a meaningful twenty-first century critical youth studies.
10 Abandoning Pathologization: Conceptualizing Indigenous Youth Identity as Flowing from Communitarian Understandings
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As a result of their education and socialization, many adults may often view the identity and development of young people from Enlightenment-based perspectives and thus assume that the young are damaged somehow and in need of fixing. This places a heavy burden upon youths to conform to the wishes of adults. As educators, we well know that the contentiousness associated with schooling the young is a persistent and prominent tension in the field of education (Freire, 1993; Apple, 2004; Kincheloe, 2008). Since “conceptions of childhood [and youth] are always culturally and historically conditioned” (Smith, 1988, p. 109) and since young people have been referred to as everything from “subspecies” to “prophets,” to representations of “alternative epistemolog[ies]” (Kennedy, 2002) to “projection targets for unresolved adult desires and conflicts” (Smith, 2003, p. 44), in this chapter we wonder how and in what ways these understandings of the young have influenced policy conceptions of youth in Canada. More specifically, we wish to explore how these Enlightenment-based cultural and conventionalized understandings of the meaning of youth in the lives of adults has been extended to Indigenous1 youth in Canada and how this has negatively influenced their well-being.
A key organizing insight of this chapter is that the problems faced by mainstream Canadian youth are also experienced by Indigenous youth in similar ways, except that these problems are often further exacerbated for Indigenous youth due to the influence of colonial frontier logics2 and the ways in which Indian3 subjectivities have been legislated,...
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