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Transnational fears about marginalized young people at the borders of the nation

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Mobile, transnational narratives of moral panic have infiltrated and transformed youth cultural activities, while simultaneously affecting multicultural policies in relation to ideas about the nation, race, and migration. The agents of this growing, urban threat are seen to be what former British Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher called ‘the enemy within’, disaffected young people who are characteristically from ethnic or religious minorities and often economically disadvantaged. In the midst of current global political and economic insecurities, we can witness the role of what Etienne Balibar and Chris Rumford (2010) refer to as border anxiety in constituting the ideological borders of the nation. These representations of young people can be read as a form of border work where legitimacy and citizenship are established not only through the use of legal principles such as residency and human rights, but through invisible cultural forces which appear to uphold ‘equality’ for all. Drawing upon comparative research conducted in Canada and Australia and with support from the CCE , the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council and the David Lam Chair, Dillabough and Oliver will draw on, for example, the work of Sara Ahmed and Etienne Balibar to respond to the problematics associated with disadvantaged youth, border anxiety and transnational thinking on multicultural policy in the 21st century. They will address the following questions:
  • How is border anxiety manifested in different ‘social texts’ of the nation, including in the media, educational curricula, and oral histories of youth?
  • How might we envision the role that borders – as both a geographical reality and in the form of a national imaginary – play in producing particular notions of young people in the context of moral norms related to multicultural policies in the 21st century across time and place?
  • How might national borders work as a form of power to either transform or accommodate the dominant narratives of economically disadvantaged youth in research, as well as the public record, across time and place?
  • How might we translate these oral histories and accounts of border politics expressed by young people and other members of urban communities into practical material for real world politics (visual anime and cartoons, e-books and blogs, and surrealist time-lapse documentaries) for teachers and public policy makers?*

This talk is part of the Centre for Commonwealth Education (CCE) series.

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