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Intergenerational perspectives on growing up in coastal towns: a new project on coastal youth experiences

By UCL Global Youth, on 8 April 2022

By Rachel Benchekroun (Research Assistant, TCRU/CGY) and Pippa Curtin (Voice and influence co-ordinator, North East Lincolnshire Council)

Living in a coastal town in the UK offers unique opportunities, but research shows there are increased risks of poor outcomes in health, education and employment (CMO 2021, HOL 2019, Agarwal et al. 2018). Geographical isolation, limited transport networks and the decline of fishing and heavy industries since the 1970s have been key factors.

Our new project builds on earlier work led by Dr Avril Keating (Centre for Global Youth) with young people in Grimsby and Cleethorpes, and asks about growing up in coastal towns today compared with earlier, more prosperous, eras. We are co-producing the new study with young people and community groups, bringing together residents of different generations to explore their experiences of growing up in North East Lincolnshire. How has life changed in their coastal towns since the postwar ‘boom’ years, and how has this shaped young people’s experiences of growing up? What do residents of different generations see as the challenges for young people in coastal towns, and how might these be overcome?

Co-producing knowledge

We will also explore how co-production methodologies can facilitate intergenerational dialogue on these issues, and we’ll seek to develop shared understandings. UCL researchers, national organisation Young Advisors and NE Lincolnshire Council are excited to develop our collaborative work. This month, we’re training a group of young people as young researchers. Through a series of workshops, we’re working together to design and carry out research with young and older residents.

As a team, we’re developing innovative participatory methods, including community events to host group discussions, in-depth one-to-one interviews using potographic and mapping methods, and walking tours of Grimsby and Cleethorpes. Walking tours will offer opportunities not only for learning about local heritage, but also for finding out about future developments and sharing visions and aspirations. We aim to capture participants’ stories, reflections and ideas by recording conversations and taking photographs during our walks.

We’ll bring participants together to discuss and debate the challenges young people face growing up in coastal towns, and to share ideas for how these should be tackled. Together, we’ll make a plan to share our findings with local and regional stakeholders, such as the Greater Grimsby Board (responsible for overseeing the Grimsby Masterplan), decision-makers from NE Lincs Children’s Services and Adults’ Services, and the Coastal Communities Alliance. Our young researchers will play a key role in sharing findings from this research project. We want to ensure that policymakers are taking account of young people’s views in shaping the future of their towns.

Project partners and funders

Thomas Coram Research Unit, part of UCL Social Research Institute, is delighted to have been awarded funding for this project by UCL Grand Challenges Special Initiatives (under the ‘Intergenerational Dynamics’ theme), as well as additional funding from the Office of the Pro-Vice-Provost (UK). The funding will enable us to build relationships with a range of partners, including researchers at the University of Lincoln. Led by Prof Claire Cameron, and supported by Niccola Hutchinson-Pascal of the Co-Production Collective, we’ve started sharing ideas about co-production with Dr Anna Tarrant and Debbie Taylor of the Grimsby Dads Collective, participatory heritage projects with Prof Carenza Lewis, and heath inequalities in rural areas with Prof Mark Gussy. We’re keen to build on existing partnerships and look forward to developing new partnerships with local and national arts, heritage and community organisations and employers interested in our research topic, including Onside (currently developing Grimsby’s new Horizon Youth Zone centre) and Associated British Ports. This project will run from March – 31 October 2022.

Researching with young people in coastal towns: What have we learned about co-production with young people?

By UCL Global Youth, on 10 March 2022

Guest post by Dr Rachel Benchekroun (UCL IOE) and Pippa Curtin (Voice and Influence Co-Ordinator, Young Advisors, North East Lincolnshire Council)

What did we set out to achieve?

Coastal towns present unique challenges and opportunities for their young residents. The aim of the co-production strand of our recent research project was to work with young researchers to explore how growing up in a coastal town shapes young people’s aspirations, how they feel about their coastal town, and how they think it can be improved. Following a pilot project in Margate, project lead Avril Keating and research assistant Rachel Benchekroun at UCL wanted to work with a group of young people in North East Lincolnshire to enable them, as young researchers, to interview their peers and older people to find out more. We wanted to work together to develop innovative arts-based and place-based methods to use in the interviews. Image of pier in a seaside town

Our existing relationship with national organisation Young Advisors was a strong base for developing a partnership with Young Advisors in North East Lincolnshire, led by Pippa Curtin, the NE Lincs Voice and Influence Coordinator. This project was an exciting opportunity for the Young Advisors in NE Lincolnshire to get involved in a national project on behalf of their organisation. Using their skills, knowledge and contacts, the young people were keen to gain insights into past and present experiences of what it’s like to grow up in a coastal community. They would also have the opportunity to advise on the use of peer research methods and develop new research skills. Not least, it was a chance to work with a university to showcase their local area and the voices of young people.

What did we achieve?

Through regular communication and positive collaboration, a strong partnership was developed between Young Advisors as a national organisation, the NE Lincolnshire team and the UCL researchers. The Young Advisors tested out the interactive methods as participants, and made significant contributions to their design before conducting their own interviews. They developed new strategies along the way, drawing on their experiences to shape the research project, and worked with Rachel to review the methods as the fieldwork progressed. Young Advisors’ innovations included trying out the interactive methods with older interviewees as well as peers; interviewing a couple in a paired interview, rather than one-to-one; and helping a young interviewee feel more comfortable with the interactive methods by engaging in the activities in parallel.

Through interviews and reflective workshops, the Young Advisors shared with Rachel their knowledge of their coastal community, and their views of the opportunities and challenges, and what they would change. They also drew on their personal networks to recruit and interview peers and older people, enabling young and older residents from a range of backgrounds to share their reflections and ideas about their local area with a view to informing future developments in the area. The data the Young Advisors generated through their dual roles as participants and researchers were invaluable in helping to address the project’s research questions.

What have we learned about co-production?

There was significant learning for all of us. The Young Advisors enjoyed finding out about their interviewees’ views of their town, identifying patterns and differences in responses:

I liked how you can see how people’s views are very similar even if they grew up on different sides of the town […] but then also very different as well.

The best thing was just hearing different views [from] old people experiencing different things to us.

Although experienced in carrying out consultations in their town, this was the Young Advisors’ first experience of undertaking social research for a project with a university. Through a combination of training workshops, first-hand experience and reflective group sessions, the Young Advisors learned about research ethics and the practical challenges of planning and undertaking fieldwork. Over the duration of the fieldwork, the Young Advisors developed their confidence and skills in building rapport with their interviewees, following the interview schedule, and simultaneously being sensitive to the natural flow of the conversation and responding with effective ‘prompt’ questions. These research skills and wider interpersonal skills are likely to be an asset in the Young Advisors’ future work and education opportunities.

What were the challenges and how did we address them?

Finding a balance between the requirements of a university-initiated research project and the needs of the Young Advisors was an ongoing challenge. For example, university requirements for us to use comprehensive information sheets and consent forms to obtain informed consent – necessary for ethical approval – meant that, despite our best efforts, these documents were wordy and long. This created problems for the Young Advisors, both as participants and as researchers having to explain terminology to their interviewees. Sometimes the consequences were counter-productive: “with the consent form […] my young person just did yes for everything. They didn’t even read the question. It was yes, yes, yes.”

Another university requirement was to provide details of our planned research methods in order to obtain ethical approval before starting the fieldwork. As with the informed consent process, this is normal in the academic world, but for us this approach had to be balanced with the need to be open to the Young Advisors’ ideas and suggestions – an important aspect of co-production.

Further challenges encountered by the Young Advisors included an initial lack of familiarity with the interview schedules and difficulty finding suitable times and locations for interviews (resulting in some interviews being cut short). Ill health posed a challenge in recruiting Young Advisors, especially given the context of the pandemic, although Pippa was able to bring other team members on board. Tight timescales made it difficult for Young Advisors to arrange interviews with all of their potential participants. Working in partnership with clear and regular communication between UCL, the Young Advisors team lead and the young people themselves helped to manage the timescales. Covid-19 restrictions and the young people’s other commitments made it difficult at times for everyone to meet up in the same room, but when this was not possible, hybrid meetings were held using online platforms.

 How will our learning about co-production shape our co-produced research in the future? 

The project highlighted how essential the ‘behind-the-scenes’ support from Young Advisors NE Lincolnshire was at all stages of the project. As well as providing invaluable information about the local area, Pippa and her colleague played a vital role in organising the meetings, liaising with the Young Advisors, providing all kinds of support and advice, suggesting solutions and general troubleshooting! Without this support and regular communication, the project would not have been possible.

Moving forward into the next iteration of the project, we want to centre the values of co-production. We’ll engage with the Young Advisors by finding out about their hopes and expectations, prioritising an approach of ‘working with’ rather than what will generate the best data. We also want to make our research more accessible at all stages and for everyone – and we believe we can do this by thinking in a young person-centred way.

As part of this, we plan to review the information sheet and consent form with the university ethics panel to find ways to make these shorter, simpler and more accessible, without losing essential content. We also intend to make the workshops more interactive, building on Young Advisors’ existing skills and experience, and will be open to doing things differently. We want to build in more time for the Young Advisors to develop and pilot innovative interactive methods, role play the interviews, and reflect deeply on what works and what they would change. We’ll make every effort to run all of the workshops in person, to help build strong relationships. In the next iteration of the project, we will benefit from peer learning by bringing together new participants with Young Advisors who were involved as researchers in the earlier project.

We’ll allow more time for fieldwork, ideally including both term-time and school/college holidays to maximise opportunities to organise interviews. Rather than putting the onus on the Young Advisors to find suitable locations for interviews, we’ll provide quiet, safe spaces in a public or community building for them to use. We’ll make sure that one or both of us will be on site to provide support and advice as needed, and to check in with each Young Advisor after each interview, to reflect together on what went well and what might work better next time.

We’ll also plan more reflective group sessions both during the fieldwork stage and afterwards, to ensure the Young Advisors are fully involved in analysis of the data, planning and developing accessible and interactive research outputs, and sharing key findings locally, regionally and nationally. We want to make sure that any promotional materials and reports produced are young person-friendly in their presentation and language by asking Young Advisors from the marketing team to design them. We want to ensure the Young Advisors are front and centre in taking the findings to policymakers and other stakeholders. It will be important for the Young Advisors – and their interviewees – to see the impact of the research.

Implementing this learning will help us ensure that young people are at the heart of decision making and helping to change their community – in accordance with the principles of the Young Advisors movement. It will also help us to build an even stronger partnership between Young Advisors and UCL, and produce high quality research which will shape policy and practice at local and national levels.

Adolescence and Belonging in Medieval Europe, c.1000–c.1250: A new British Academy Project

By UCL Global Youth, on 11 November 2021

Guest post by Dr Emily Ward, British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow, Department of History at UCL

The two and a half centuries between c.1000 and c.1250 were years of religious, socio-economic, legal and political change across the European continent. Many of these changes directly affected the lives of young people. Expanding urban centres brought increasing opportunities for work, education and social activities. New monastic orders turned to adolescents and youths to invest in their vision and participate in their efforts. The introduction of greater definition and additional restrictions around inheritance, wardship and legal majority altered aspects of rites of passage. My current project, funded by the British Academy (PF20\100057), seeks to illuminate how adolescents navigated the transition to adulthood at this time of wider societal change across medieval Europe. I adopt a comparative methodology to examine the experiences of young men roughly aged between twelve and twenty-five across four different environments: knightly (young squires and knights), monastic (adolescent novices), urban (students and apprentices) and clerical (non-monastic religious).

Pairing adolescence with the politicized concept of belonging draws attention to the impact of change on young people from different backgrounds and social statuses. That adolescence is culturally and socially constructed will hardly be news to those reading the Centre for Global Youth’s blog, but the historical significance of this stage of life is perhaps less widely appreciated. Adolescence is still viewed as something of a modern ‘phenomenon’ even though, both today and in the past, these are years which are pivotal to understanding how belonging is ‘constructed across one’s lifespan’ (Lähdesmäki et al., 2016).

Across the eleventh, twelfth and thirteenth centuries, adolescence was recognised as a crucial time for forming social bonds, moulding expectations of conduct, determining personality and influencing moral development. During these years, young people often learnt, developed and practiced the customs and skills deemed appropriate to their place in society. Tensions between familial expectations and an individual’s personal will can be brought into sharper focus during adolescence, a time when many young people left home or made decisions regarding the communities and social groups within which they ‘belonged’. When John, the adolescent son of a knight from Northampton, defied his parents’ wishes to join the small Franciscan community in his hometown in the opening decades of the thirteenth century, he did so by publicly communicating his desire to belong to the brethren instead of to his family (De adventu fratrum, ed. Little, 1951).

In addition to exploring adolescent belonging from a personal perspective, my project also considers facets of political and institutional belonging, while remaining aware of the need for flexibility to encompass the often overlapping and intertwined nature of these two aspects. Because adolescence was deemed to be a time when young people could still be moulded by those around them, adolescents often faced constraints on their speech, actions and behaviour. I will be considering questions such as: how did different areas of medieval society attempt to exclude (or include) young men? How did adults exert control over adolescents’ social, romantic and sexual relationships, their physical and psychological development, and their life choices and independence? And what can we determine of adolescent acceptance, or resentment, of the political, legal or institutional restrictions and expectations imposed upon them?

Examining adolescent experiences and notions of adolescence throughout medieval Europe poses several challenges. Participatory research – a crucial aspect of modern youth studies – is, of course, impossible when centring on the lives of young people who lived several centuries ago. Consulting a wide variety of surviving sources helps overcome this by shedding light on different aspects of adolescence over the period. Letters and autobiographical writings recall some of the conflicting expectations and social pressures adolescents confronted. Chroniclers and biographers stress adolescence’s significance as an educationally formative phase of life when young men learnt their roles in a military environment, often testing themselves against their peers. Collections of exempla furnish a range of moralising tales and cautionary stories of young adolescents in monastic communities which can be revealing of adult attempts to regulate adolescent behaviour. Similar efforts to influence and control young people’s sense of ‘belonging’ can also be observed in pedagogical tracts which present ideals of adolescent conduct. Literary works further augment this impression through representations of fictional adolescent lives which were intended to resonate with the experiences and emotions of their audiences.

Examining the multifaceted ways in which ideas about belonging entwined with concepts of adolescence and adolescent experience provides a valuable lens through which to consider young people’s place in medieval society, elucidating facets of wider societal change between the eleventh and thirteenth centuries.

About the author:  Dr Emily Joan Ward is a medieval historian and British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow based in the Department of History at UCL. Her first monograph, Royal Childhood and Child Kingship: Boy Kings in England, Scotland, France and Germany, c.1050–1262, is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press (2022). Her research interests include life cycle and gender, rulership and authority, and documentary culture and historical writing.

Youth and music in the city – 24th November 2021

By UCL Global Youth, on 10 November 2021

The final webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 24th November from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on young people’s relationship with music.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Presentation 1: Hiphopography as urban cartography: Some notes on shared study

Dr Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan, Goldsmiths, University of London  

In this talk I draw from my experiences running rap/poetry workshops with court-involved youth in New York City – before I entered the world of academia – to illustrate the possibilities of hiphopography as an urban cartographic method that maps the relationships and distances produced by anti-Black state violence. In the late 1990s historian and hip hop scholar James Spady coined the term hiphopography to describe the kinds of biographical, ethnographic, and oral history approaches hip hop/Black Studies scholars utilise to challenge ideas of the ‘researcher and the ‘researched’ implicit in traditional ethnography. I mark the ways in which hiphopography can offer a critical and creative means to collaboratively study urban cartographies of marginalization and violence with young people through the production of sonic, visual, textual, and embodied forms of knowledge.  These forms don’t necessarily need to be consumed by scholarly or hip hop publics as art or evidence. Rather, this material foregrounds hip hop’s artistic practice as a theoretically rich and relational engagement with the racialized conditions of possibility – what Fred Moten might call study – for youthful life in the city.

Author Biography: Ethiraj Gabriel Dattatreyan is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Anthropology at Goldsmiths. He holds a joint PhD in education and socio-cultural anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania. His audio-visual and written research engages with the ways in which digital media consumption, production, and circulation shape understandings of migration, gender, race, and urban space.

Presentation 2: Scottish Hip-Hop? Challenging, interpreting and remaking youth culture(s) A short discussion about Scottish culture, hip-hop culture and the ways that local and global culture(s) interact.

Dr Dave Hook, Edinburgh Napier University

In this talk, I will discuss my own experiences of making and being involved in hip-hop in Scotland. This provides opportunities to ask questions about people’s preconceptions about both hip-hop culture and Scottish culture, examining youth stereotypes in both, and challenging ideas that elements of each may be incompatible. Using a combination of autoethnography, poetic analysis and cultural studies, evidence emerges demonstrating the combining of local culture(s), global culture(s) and the individual idiosyncratic, hybridising to create something new that can exist across cultural domains.

Biography:  Dr Dave Hook is a Lecturer in Music at Edinburgh Napier University. A rapper, poet, song-writer and music producer, he lectures in a range of subjects including lyric writing and analysis, recording studio theory and practice, mastering techniques and music production. His research focuses on hip-hop, rap lyricism, identity, culture and performance, through creative practice.

Winner of Best Hip-Hop at the Scottish Alternative Music Awards 2018, he has toured extensively throughout the UK and around the globe both as the lyricist and principal songwriter with alternative hip-hop group Stanley Odd, and as solo artist, Solareye. Stanley Odd’s most recent album, ‘STAY ODD’ was shortlisted for Scottish Album of the Year 2021. His written poetry has been published in a range of publications including Gutter Magazine, Neu! Reekie!’s #UntitledTwo anthology, and Forty Voices Strong: An Anthology of Contemporary Scottish Poetry.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 6 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Youth Activism in the City Part 2: youth movements in East Asia and Hong Kong

By UCL Global Youth, on 20 October 2021

 Wednesday, 10th November from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. 

This week we return to the theme of youth activism in the city, this time taking a closer look at youth movements in East Asia and Hong Kong.

We will be joined by Dr Sonia Lam-Knott (DPhil Anthropology, Oxon), a Research Affiliate of the School of Anthropology and Museum Ethnography, University of Oxford. Her research focusses on the interplay between politics, temporality, and urban space in the contemporary East Asian context, with emphasis on the experiences of young people. She has published her work in Inter-Asia Cultural Studies and Space and Polity, and co-edited volumes on youth politics and post-politics in Asian cities.

In this webinar, Dr Lam-Knott will present a paper entitled Resilience or Resignation? Youth Mobilisations in/ from Hong Kong. This presentation examines youth movements in Asian cities during the 2010s, with emphasis on the quasi-democratic context of Hong Kong. Using ethnographic observations and documentary data, it outlines the variegated political aspirations, strategies, and spatial manifestations seen in the city’s youth-led mobilisations. It then addresses how Hong Kong civil society’s ability to access and use public space has been disrupted by a combination of heavy-handed police responses, COVID-19 public health measures, and by the introduction of the 2020 National Security Law aimed at curtailing a broad array of dissent. Under these circumstances, young people have broadly responded in two ways. Some have engaged in novel forms of physical and digital mobilisations, as a means of reclaiming and re-imagining political spaces in the city. At the same time, driven by their seemingly bleak realities, other young people are seeking to permanently emigrate and re-establish their futures in spaces of elsewhere. The presentation concludes by noting how these actions highlight fissures – as dictated by respective differences in affective outlooks, life stages, and socio-economic capital – within the category of ‘youth’ in Hong Kong.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Webinar on Race, Class, Youth and the City – 27th October

By UCL Global Youth, on 14 October 2021

The second webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 20th October from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on the inter-related issues of race, class, youth and city.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Presentation 1: Blasted Places – Smog, Steel and Stigma in a Post-industrial Region

Professor Anoop Nayak, Newcastle University

In 2015 the death knell tolled on Redcar steelworks in Teesside, North East England, ending 170-year-old history of steelmaking in the region.  The nearest major urban agglomeration, Middlesbrough, was literally brought-into-being with the discovery of iron ore, the rise of heavy engineering and later developments in petro-chemical manufacture.  Steel-manufacture, engineering and industry provided a stable future for generations of young people in the region.  But what happens when an area, spawned from the material elements of the Anthropocene, is no longer regarded as profitable?  When the iron core of its very constitution implodes, leaving it depicted as a redundant, polluted and blasted place?  This paper explores this transition and how Middlesbrough has come to be stigmatized as a ‘sulpherous zone’ (Wacquant, 2007), tarnished by chemical pollutants, high rates of unemployment, drugs and longstanding early teenage pregnancy.  It investigates the heavy weight of stigma in Teesside, how it comes to be attached to bodies, neighbourhoods, the natural environment and social life more generally.  However, contrary to the work of Wacquant (Wacquant, 2007; Wacquant et al. 2014) and other urban sociologists writing on territorial stigma, the study explores forms of local resistance and collective attempts by residents to reclaim, rework and re-script the supposedly stigmatized places they reside in.

Author Biography: Anoop Nayak is a Professor of Social & Cultural Geography at Newcastle University. His research interests are in: race and ethnic studies; youth, culture and social Class; and gender, masculinities and social Change. Anoop has published widely in these areas and is author of Race, Place and Globalization:  Youth Cultures in a Changing World (2003 Oxford: Berg).  He is co-author with Mary Jane Kehily of a joint monograph Gender, Youth and Culture:  Global Masculinities and Femininities (2013 2nd Ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan), and has published a social theory book on spatial relations of power with Alex Jeffrey entitled Geographical Thought (Routledge, 2013).  Anoop is currently leading a funded project exploring ‘Young People, Diversity and Belonging in a Post-Brexit Age’ (REA) and an ESRC co-production award exploring masculinities and care, ‘Boys to Men:  Developing New Templates for Masculinities in Primary Schools’.

Presentation 2: The Creative Underclass

Dr Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge

In his book The Creative Underclass, Denmead critically examines his paradoxical role as the founder of an American-based arts studio for youth. Some young people have credited the studio with providing transformative educational experiences, while, at the same time, acting as a gentrifying force in their neighbourhoods. Denmead will discuss how the concept of the creative underclass is useful in understanding this paradoxical dispossession-through-inclusion and the ways in which young people trouble the racial logics of creative-led urban transformation.

Author Biography: Tyler Denmead teaches in the Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and at Queens’ College.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Youth activism in the city: Part 1- 3rd November

By UCL Global Youth, on 12 October 2021

The third webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 3rd November from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on the theme of youth activism and will feature research from Nigeria and Glasgow at the start of the UNCCC COP26 negotiation 2021.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Presentation 1: Understanding youth restiveness in contemporary Nigeria – Street Protests and Dissent as forms of claim-making.

Dr. Joseph Egwurube, University of La Rochelle

The Nigerian youth, people aged between 15 and 35 according to the Nigerian National Youth Policy of 2009 revised in 2019, have been struggling to be seen and heard by successive Nigerian governments. Though the Youth Policy declares the intention of governments at all levels to accelerate youth empowerment and cater for the welfare of those in this age bracket, to be young in Nigeria remains very challenging today. With a median age of 18, the country is relatively young demographically. However, while the youth wield demographic muscle, they continue to suffer from neglect and economic, social, and political marginalization and deprivation. I will explore how in the absence of political, economic, and social capital by the young on the one hand, and the high level of citizen distrust of governmental institutions coupled with State intolerance to freedom of expressing dissent on the other hand, young Nigerians have taken to street protests, among other avenues, as a vehicle to articulate their interests and make claims on public policy makers.  I will examine what these interests are, and how street protests designed to advance them nation-wide in major cities have been organized, drawing from the experience of some protests from the 1989 riots against the IMF imposed Structural Adjustment Programme to the End SARS movement in 2020 which began as a fight by the youth against police brutality before it evolved into a demand for good governance and accountability. I will explore what generated the youth street protest movements chosen, how support was mobilized and by who, what actions were taken by young protesters, how governments reacted and if the desired outcomes by the young were attained or not. I will draw attention to how the digital tool provided a very potent mobilizational and federating trans-regional, trans-ethnic, and trans-religious tool for the youth during the 2020 End SARS street protests before assessing the relative capacity of the Nigerian youth to use ‘parliament on the streets in cities’ as an avenue to initiate social and political change.

Author Biography: Joseph Egwurube holds a Ph.D in Political Science from the University of Bordeaux in France. He was a Senior Lecturer for several years at Ahmadu Bello University in the city of Zaria in Nigeria before he moved in 1990 to France for family reasons. At present, he teaches Business and Legal English to post-graduate students at the University of La Rochelle in France and is an Associate Researcher with the CRHIA, the Centre for Research on International and Atlantic History. His research focus is on inter-group relations in Nigeria. He is interested, among others, on women empowerment and student activism.  His first novel, which deals with the resilience of women, has been accepted for publication by a British publisher. He is also interested in exploring adjustment problems faced by Nigerian and other sub-Saharan African immigrants in the USA and has written a few published articles on this theme.

Presentation 2: Contestation in the city and COP26: the voices of young environmental activists taking to the streets

Dr Sarah Pickard, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris and Dena Arya, Nottingham Trent University

Sit-downs, die-ins and lock-ons are just some of the ways that young people are increasingly engaging in peaceful protests through non-violent direct action (NVDA). Young people are drawing on and expanding the repertoire of contention, including civil disobedience. By disruptively occupying public (and sometimes private) spaces in the city, these young protesters are using their agency to draw attention to situated injustices and specific issues, with the aim of putting pressure on powerholders to bring about change. The collective performance of protest also brings feelings of solidarity, joy and hope to those participating in often aesthetic acts of contestation. Thus, young people are taking part in Do-It-Ourselves (DIO) politics; they feel the need to do something together because they feel frustrated and angry with politicians not doing enough. The collective act of doing something with like-minded youth in public arenas provides an existential outlet for their anxiety, fear and rage.

This seminar builds on interviews carried out with young environmental activists in FFF and XR in late 2019. It will be given from Glasgow at the start of the UNCCC COP26 negotiations. With a focus on ‘youth and the city,’ it will address, why young people have been taking to the streets, where they have come from to participate, how they are using public spaces to protest, and what reactions their disruptive actions solicit from the public and the police. It will include insights from observations and interviews with young environmental protesters at COP26, as well as thoughts on carrying out research with young people in situ during protest actions.

Author Biographies:  Dr Sarah Pickard is a Senior lecturer in British Politics and Society at Université Sorbonne Nouvelle and her research examines different dimensions of young people’s political participation. In addition to publishing a monograph on Politics, Protest and Young People in 2019. Sarah has also co-edited several edited collections on youth political participation. Most recently, she co-edited (along with Judith Bessant and Analicia Mejia Mesina) a three volume edicted collection on When Students Protest.

Dena Arya is a doctoral researcher at Nottingham Trent University and her research focuses on the role that economic inequality plays in how young people participate in environmental politics in the UK. To find out a little more about her research you can check out her NTU profile page, Twitter page (@dnaarya) or her Instagram (@dena.arya). You can also have a look at some of her recent published work on ethnography with young environmental activists during the COVID-19 pandemic here.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Youth voice in the city: involving young people in research and planning and decisionmaking – 17th November.

By UCL Global Youth, on 8 October 2021

The fourth webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 17th November from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on the theme of youth voice, and will feature research from London and Athens.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

The practical ethics of doing urban planning research with young people

Hannah Sender, Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL

In this presentation, we’ll talk about what makes co-producing research with young people possible, and a positive experience. We’ll touch on different matters to do with practical ethics, including project management and design, mental health support, and payment. Whilst we’ll draw on our own experiences of working with/as young researchers in London, we aim to tease out some lessons we’ve learned which can be relevant for others working in different contexts.

Author Biography: Hannah Sender is a PhD student and Research Fellow at the Bartlett Faculty of the Built Environment. She is interested in how changes in urban areas affect adolescents’ everyday lives, subjectivities and futures. Hannah works with young people of different genders, nationalities, ethnicities and with different abilities, in Lebanon and the UK. She develops creative and collaborative methodologies which support young people to be researchers of their own lives and neighbourhoods.

Youth voice in the city – involving young people in research and planning and decision-making

Dr. Tom Western, UCL Department of Geography

This talk details a set of collaborative methods for creative activism. It centres on Athens, and the ways that people build autonomous spaces of research, knowledge, and cultural production – both as techniques of voice and mobilisation, and as means of remapping and remaking the city. I will narrate these methods through a project called the Active Citizens Sound Archive, which I run with my colleagues in the Syrian and Greek Youth Forum (SGYF). The archive is a space for amplifying citizenship work, youth activism, and community mobilising. It sings relational and collective geographies. It foregrounds imagination as a tool of social and political transformation, required to think things otherwise: to unmake borders, to form counterpublics, to assert presence and belonging, to open the city. The talk aims to share these methods of collaboration, relation, and imagination – detailing how academic and activist knowledges combine, and how vocal politics carry into research, planning, and decision-making.

Author Biography: Tom Western is a Lecturer in Social and Cultural Geography at UCL. His teaching and research centre on movements and migrations, cities and citizenships, relations and imaginations, activisms and anticolonialisms. Tom works primarily in Athens, Greece, where he studies and contributes to migratory activisms and creative citizenship movements. Based on this work, Tom is currently writing a book titled Circular Movements: Migratory Citizenships in Athens. The book hears how people in Athens creatively contest the logics of borders and citizenship regimes, reimagining questions of being and belonging in the city, and remaking citizenships against citizenship.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

Webinar on Precarity, youth and the city – 20th October 2021

By UCL Global Youth, on 8 October 2021

The first webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series takes places on Wednesday, 20th October from 12 noon – 1pm (UK time). This webinar will focus on the theme of precarity, and will feature research from London and Nairobi.

To register for this event and receive a Zoom link for the webinar, visit our Eventbrite page. The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on the CGY YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Presentation 1: ‘Press-ganged’ Generation Rent: Youth homelessness, precarity and poverty in East London

Paul Watt, Professor of Urban Studies in the Department of Geography at Birkbeck, University of London.

This paper examines youth homelessness, precarity and poverty via a critical account of ‘Generation Rent’ – that young people are living in the private rental sector (PRS) in perpetuity having been locked out of both homeownership and social renting. The post-2008 crash period has witnessed a profound transformation in young people’s tenure expectations and experiences such that homeownership has become an impossible dream for most, while social renting has also become increasingly out-of-reach for working-class youth due to four decades of neoliberalisation and the last decade of austerity welfare cutbacks. Rather than being a transitional tenure for young people embarking on their housing careers, the PRS has become their de facto tenure of destination, hence giving rise to the influential notion of ‘Generation Rent’. This paper examines precarity and the notion of Generation Rent by focussing on employment (non-standard contracts) and housing (insecurity and evictions) with reference to in-depth interviews undertaken with 55 young people aged 18-30. This multi-ethnic group of low-income, working-class youth were living in temporary accommodation either in East London or in South East England having been displaced there from London. The paper illustrates the interlinkages between employment and housing precarity. However, despite the young people’s well-founded antipathy towards the PRS, they were being steered towards this tenure by housing officials – not renting from the PRS was no longer an option. Therefore, if the PRS is becoming a ‘tenure of destination’ for young people, this represents a case of coerced, ‘press-ganged’ Generation Rent for Black, Asian and white working-class youth.

Author Biography: Paul Watt is Professor of Urban Studies in the Department of Geography at Birkbeck, University of London. He has published widely on social housing, urban regeneration, homelessness, gentrification, suburbanisation, and the 2012 Olympic Games. His most recent book is Estate Regeneration and Its Discontents: Public Housing, Place and Inequality in London (Policy Press, 2021):

Presentation 2: Hustling recentred – thinking with Nairobi to understand young working lives in the post-wage economy.

Dr Tatiana Thieme, UCL Geography

This presentation draws on ethnographic research in one of Nairobi’s oldest and largest informal settlements, Mathare, where young people mobilise the notion of ‘hustle’ to express narratives of struggle, day to day income opportunities, and solidarities in under-served neighbourhoods. In this context, everyday young lives navigate constant economic, social and political insecurity, caught in a state of suspension (or ‘waithood’) while shaping local practices of provisioning in the absence of formal structures of support. The presentation will reflect on the temporalities and terrains of the hustle economy in Mathare, which include the emerging tensions and solidarities between different generations of youth, and between youth who stay and those who leave ‘the hood’. Finally, the presentation will pan out to reflect on how ‘hustling’ is situated within wider debates around the future of work for youth. Here I reflect on hustling as an increasingly globalised vernacular, that simultaneously presents an affirmative narrative of work outside normative conventions of the wage, while also echoing on-going expressions of racial capitalism and marginalisation.

Author Biography: Dr Tatiana Thieme is an Associate Professor in Human Geography at UCL Geography. Her research interests engage with different aspects of entrepreneurial and makeshift urbanism, and recent research has focused on alternative cultural and economic geographies related to the politics of urban poverty, informal work, and everyday coping strategies in contexts of precarious urban environments. The three sub-themes of her research are: Urban political ecology of sanitation and waste; Youth geographies and “hustle” economies; social enterprise and development.

About the Youth and the City webinar series

This term the Centre for Global Youth is using its webinar series to explore the latest research on youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua, UCL-IOE.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.

New webinar series for Autumn 2021: Youth and the City

By UCL Global Youth, on 10 September 2021

The Centre for Global Youth (CGY) is hosting a series of webinars to explore questions of youth and cities. Over 5 weeks during October to November 2021, these 1-hour seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces. Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

When? The webinars will take place on Wednesday from 12-1 on the following dates:

Confirmed speakers include:

  • Dr Tatiana Thieme, UCL Department of Geography
  • Professor Paul Watt, Birkbeck University
  • Professor Anoop Nayak, Newcastle University
  • Dr Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge
  • Dr Sarah Pickard, Université Sorbonne Nouvelle, Paris
  • Dena Arya, Nottingham Trent University
  • Dr. Joseph Egwurube, University of La Rochelle
  • Hannah Sender, Institute for Global Prosperity, UCL
  • Tom Western, UCL Department of Geography
  • Dr Gabriel Dattatreyan, Goldsmiths

The webinars will also be recorded and later posted on our YouTube channel for those who cannot attend during the live session.

Organisational details: The series is co-ordinated by Avril Keating, Caroline Oliver, and Brett Lashua. To book your ticket and receive a link for the webinar, please visit our Eventbrite page.

Privacy: For information about UCL’s privacy practices and how UCL uses your data, please see the UCL General Privacy Notice.