Kristen Eglinton has produced a gripping book full of both theory and scintillating perceptions drawn from a beautifully crafted ethnography of youth culture in two contrasting locations, New York City and the Yukon Territory. Her central thesis that youth are active agents continuously constructing their worlds is born out by her highly reflexive accounts or stories. These have the quality of a novel in both their clarity of perception of what is going on but - and this is what is so exceptional about this book - with a vivid sense of her own presence and the impact that the situation has on her and her ability to perceive. At the end of the account readers will feel that they actually know the subjects well enough to recognise them in the streets and to take up Eglinton's conversations with them. This is an excellent model for reflexive anthropology and cultural studies.
Nick Stanley, Research Fellow Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas, The British Museum, London
Seldom do you find a book on youth identities that manages to achieve theoretical sophistication, methodological innovation, empirical depth and analytical rigour. Youth identities, Localities, and Visual Material Culture: Making Selves, Making Worlds achieves all four with aplomb. Eglinton’s sensitive engagement with young people’s lived experience in the Yukon and New York City deepens our understanding of the ‘landscapes’ that shape young lives and the visual cultures these youth negotiate, produce and perform. It offers a too seldom explored analysis of the shifts that must necessarily occur if educators and youth practitioners are to be contextually relevant, and offers participatory visual ethnography as both methodological and pedagogical practice. Written with noticeable personal investment, relational sensitivity and intellectual clarity, Youth identities is an important book and the first extended critical analysis of the possibilities for bringing into educational spaces the cultural lives of young people.
Sharlene Swartz, Research Director, Human Sciences Research Council, South Africa and adjunct Associate Professor, Department of Sociology, University of Cape Town.
Visual material culture, if it is to have pedagogical significance, urgently needs to draw upon the knowledge created through Eglinton's ground breaking ethnographic enquiry. Theory, methodology and understanding are all advanced in a work that makes a compelling case for the development of an 'ethnographic pedagogy' that can do justice to youth identities by examining the unofficial curriculum rooted in local place. The unfolding story comes as a gift to a wide range of constituencies: those interested in identity politics and policy makers, youth studies scholars, arts educators, participant ethnographers, human geographers of space and place and even those concerned with art education as a radical form of visual culture. Eglinton's generosity of tone, elegance of writing, vivid analytical descriptions and incisive arguments will give much pleasure and much to think about.
John Finney, University of Cambridge
As educators in both schools and community programs, scholars of visual/material culture, and youth studies this groundbreaking and indispensable book provides a much needed understanding of how youth learn about and construct their identities in today’s global world. By bringing the voices of youth to the forefront Eglinton asks us to place youth at the center of pedagogical and theoretical discussions and rethink youth engagement as active, imaginative and transformative, always in relation to place as simultaneously local and global.
Dipti Desai, Associate Professor and Director of the Graduate Program in Art Education at New York University.
Eglinton’s remarkable account of the lives of young people in places as diverse as New York City and the Yukon is probably the most methodologically sound pieces of writing on the subject to date. Using ethnographic cases to illustrate how youth engage with visual material culture in particular socio-cultural contexts, she uses participatory ethnography to forefront youth voice. In doing so, she advocates a learnercentred pedagogical model which brings the cultural lives of young people into the classroom. This book is replete with valuable material that will not only give focus and direction for researchers and educators from a range of disciplines but also has the potential to enrich the lives of young people in the future.
Richard Hickman, University of Cambridge
This book provides an exceptionally lucid account of how young people living in two different socioeconomic spatial and cultural contexts use visual material culture to construct their place-based, racial and gender identities. Taking seriously the voices of young people and their visual productions, while maintaining sight of the wider multidisiplinary literature in the field of identity theory and research, Eglinton produces an insightful ethnographic text that illustrates good use, analysis and interpretation of visual data in social research. This book is a must read for those scholars interested in youth studies and in using participatory and visual methodologies in youth research.
Antonina Tereshchenko, University of Porto, Faculty of Psychology and Education Sciences