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Youth Activism


Youth Activism

The search for social justice cultivates many forms of collective action.

Latin American youth activism in the last 20 years

Latin American youth collectives are using innovative forms of advocacy and cultural interventions to protect their rights and make their voices heard. I am working on a monograph which analyses the role they have played in public life.

Cultural and political collectives rarely constitute more than 20 members. They provide a vehicle for young people to intervene on issues they want to transform in their societies. Large assemblies take place, where a variety of collectives agree on action. These collectives and assemblies bypass conventional and severely discredited political organisations.

Non-conventional forms of political organisation and cultural interventions often lead to effective political action. They generate public support and create better conditions to negotiate important claims: for example, to protect threatened rights or for the common good.

My research looks at the development of political subjectivity in these collectives. I have created opportunities for collaborations with and between collectives. These collaborations provide opportunities for common organisation of ideas and learning. They:

  • reflect on perceptions, experience, and opinions
  • lead to the development of interpretations and concepts that have fed back into the collectives

The project links to my previous research. This focused on the characteristics developed by critical discourses as they address forms of inequality such as anti-racism, indigenous rights, feminism or anti-capitalism. I have worked with schoolteachers, indigenous women and fusion rock bands. I examine how individuals embrace these issues through education, organisation and creative work.

Dissent in the creative arts

I am also editing the book Pedagogies of dissent: cultural activism and the politics of recognition. Contributors are working on cases in Peru, Chile, Argentina and Colombia. They study ideas, educational practices, activism and production by musicians, performers, writers, and visual artists.

Social Justice: Activism in Latin America. Graffiti on wall, 'No se vende (Not for sale)'.

The activists place themselves in a dissident position. They propose and express interpretations and values ‚Äč‚Äčthat invite disobedience and political action against the logic of the market, patriarchy, hetero-normativity, extractive policies, or racism. Through their actions, these activists promote different ways of being in the world. For example, they:

  • foster practices and policies that encourage solidarity and recognition
  • reduce the role of money by promoting bartering and recycling

A research workshop exploring cultural collectives

In 2016, I organised a workshop in Newcastle: Pedagogy of the oppressed in times of the emancipated spectator. The book is the result of the research workshop.

There is a long tradition of popular education inspired by Paulo Freire’s methods in Latin America. The workshop's aim was to explore how this interacts with contemporary egalitarian teaching methods in search of a Rancierian ‘new distribution of the sensible’. The workshop took a close look into the interventions of cultural collectives in different arts and countries.

Cultural Narratives of Crisis and Renewal

Both the book and the workshop relate to Cultural Narratives of Crisis and Renewal (CRIC). The Research Executive Agency of the European Commission funds this project (645666).

Our project studies cultural production between the 1970s and the first decades of this century. It looks at defining moments of crisis and transformation, with effects often still unfolding in the present.

Reducing inequality through education in Peru

I am also working on a research-led impact and engagement activity with the Society of Research in Peruvian Education (SIEP).

I have previously studied how the Peruvian education system uses racial and gender categories for reinforcing power relations and inequality. These categories circulate through cultural representations and everyday practices.

We are organising workshops with SIEP and local NGOs. In these workshops, researchers interact with teachers to disseminate and debate their work. Researchers have the opportunity to share the underpinnings of research on gender and ethnicity in education. Schoolteachers have the opportunity to reflect on their practice in the light of the research.

This will have a lasting effect on teachers’ understanding of the importance of their role in transforming oppressive racialised gender relations that negatively affect boys and girls from marginalised communities. There are few opportunities for teachers to engage intellectually with researchers, and work on what they do. Social research on gender, ethnicity and education has produced important knowledge. But this knowledge has not circulated among those working within the education system.

Along with the workshops, we have created a website with resources for teachers to download and share materials.