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Telling Young Lives

Portraits of Global Youth

Craig Jeffrey

Publication Year: 2008

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

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

Published by: Temple University Press


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pp. v

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pp. vii-viii

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

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pp. ix

We are extremely grateful to all the young people whose stories are told in this book. Without their patience, trust, and willingness to discuss their lives, this book would not be possible. We would like to thank Katharyne Mitchell for writing a Foreword to this book, Chris Philo and Kate Swanson for their Afterword, Matt Sparke and three anonymous referees for their comments...

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1. Introduction

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pp. 1-14

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

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2. Saka: Growing Up in the Indian Himalayas

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pp. 15-26

I first met Saka on a cold winter’s evening in 2003 inside her family’s one-room house. The room was dark; Saka’s face was only occasionally visible by the light of the flickering cooking fire. Behind her, I could hear, but not see, the livestock that also shared the room, the two cows, two bulls, and a buffalo that quietly shuffled and snorted as they chewed on their nighttime hay.

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3. “All My Life, I’ve Bounced Around”: A Portrait of Blacc

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pp. 27-39

When you take the A train from Manhattan to the eastern-most reaches of New York City, you have a one- in- three chance of ending up in Far Rockaway, the town where Blacc was born. Winding along metal rails set high above the neighborhoods, the A train takes you over a seemingly endless landscape of brick houses, rusting gas stations, and weed- filled cemeteries.

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4. Vusi Majola: “Walking Until the Shoes Is Finished”

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pp. 40-55

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

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5. Young, White, Male, and Working Class: A Portrait of Richard

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pp. 56-68

I had arranged to meet Richard outside a McDonald’s in the Meadowhall shopping center in Sheffield, En gland: a large mall designed as the simulacrum of a Tuscan hill town. It was a cool blustery day and Richard phoned me to say his shift was late clocking off. As I waited for him, I watched a stream of young people pass by, with and without friends, some pushing buggies, all of them looking harassed.

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6. Young, Male, Scottish, and Muslim: A Portrait of Kabir

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pp. 69-80

Kabir and I first arranged to meet on 12 December 2002 at the central mosque in Edinburgh, close to the University of Edinburgh where he was enrolled as a student. I had contacted the mosque to request their assistance in finding potential participants for a research project I was conducting on the geographies, identities, and everyday lives of young Muslim men living in Scotland.

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7. Politics, Lifestyle, and Identity: The Story of Sven, Eastern Germany

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pp. 81-96

Sven was a fifteen- year- old boy who participated in a research project conducted by myself and Nadine Sch

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8. “Each and Every Single Story About Me . . . There’s Like a Huge Twist to It”: Growing Up at Risk in the United States—A Portrait of Mike

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pp. 97-112

Home supervision is . . . no friends over . . . you can’t go outside, no telephone use, and no Internet. The mom is supposed to be the supervision over that. Like she decides if you get terminated [reported for violating home supervision rules] or not but, like, the home-supe officer is supposed to come over, like, every day and . . . check in on you. . . . [Once] I had a friend over when the actual officer came over. . . . Everything was cool. I’m glad I didn’t get...

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9. Zilho’s Journeys: Displacement and Return in Bosnia-Herzegovina

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pp. 113-122

From a glance at the urban landscape of central Brĉko, a town in northern Bosnia-Herzegovina (hereafter Bosnia), there is little physical sign that it was a site of conflict a little more than ten years ago. On warm summer evenings children play on miniature motorized cars on the pedestrianized main street, groups of young people sit in the many cafes that line the pavements, and live music drifts...

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10. Rocks: A Portrait of Mohammed

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pp. 123-135

Mohammed breaks rocks. It is “work” only in that it fills his days and demands much of his slender body. Smashing stone into gravel with a small hammer is one of the tasks Mohammed performs for the right to remain a squatter, a caretaker of someone else’s land. What money Mohammed has comes in other unreliable and hard- won ways: hustling on the streets of Freetown;...

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11. From Footballs to Fixer: Suresh and the New Politicians in North India

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pp. 136-147

In March 2005, I was walking around Chaudhry Charan Singh University (CCSU) in Meerut City, Uttar Pradesh (U.P.), searching for a young man called Suresh. I had been told that Suresh was an especially energetic student politician, one of a small group of Dalit (ex- untouchable) “new leaders” (naye neta¯s) on campus. I was interviewing these new politicians as part of a research project on student...

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12. Telling Nala’s Story: Negotiating the Global Agendas and Local Politics of Maasai Development in Tanzania

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pp. 148-163

When I finished my primary school, my father wanted me to get married and I was able to resist my family pressures, despite the fact that it was a big struggle. I stayed home for two years and refused to get married two times. I was able to get help from my cousin and two sympathetic Maasai men who were leaders at that time. When I got my way I was dedicated to go back to school with clear objectives of...

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13. Darkest Whiteness: Race, Class, and Culture in Global Times: A Portrait of Helena

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pp. 164-173

Helena is a white, seventeen- year- old young woman. She has blue eyes, blonde hair, and for most of her life has lived in Lillehammer, Norway, with her Nordic mother and English father. When I met Helena, she was living away from home in the United Kingdom with just her English grandmother for company. I first got to know Helena when conducting a neighborhood ethnography investigating how the lives of...

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14. Young, Deaf, and Lesbian: A Portrait of Susannah

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pp. 174-192

Susannah was born in 1978 in a northern En gland industrial city.¹ The city and its region at that time was experiencing economic decline which continued through to the early 1990s. Manufacturing in textiles— a mainstay of its economy—was either lost or moved to overseas centers of production. Unemployment levels were climbing and infrastructure support declining as the social costs of unemployment began to bite into...

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15. Afterword: Global Portraits and Local Snapshots

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pp. 193-207

I was born in the late eighties, told that the Iraqi Iranian war ended while I was too young to even remember anything, played for a while in the street then joined primary school, I was good there, good grades like most of the pupils, we studied a lot about Saddam, the Ba’ath, the revolution, as young pupils, we didn’t care so much, we didn’t talk about it that much either, then came high school,...

About the Contributors

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pp. 209-212


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pp. 213-220

E-ISBN-13: 9781592139323
Print-ISBN-13: 9781592139316

Publication Year: 2008