Youth culture and "scientific paradigms": "citizenship." by Gabriella Valera [introduction to the proceedings of the “World Youth Forum Right to Dialogue- V Edition: Searching for self in the spaces of Citiz

Youth culture and "scientific paradigms": "citizenship." by Gabriella Valera [introduction to the proceedings of the “World Youth Forum Right to Dialogue- V Edition: Searching for self in the spaces of Citizenship, edited by

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  Youth culture and "scientific paradigms": "citizenship." by Gabriella Valera [introduction to the proceedings of the “World Youth Forum Right to Dialogue- V Edition: Searching for self in the spaces of Citizenship, edited by Gabriella Valera,Ibiskos Editrice Risolo, Empoli, 2013] 1.    Disciplinary issues and their challenging aspects Texts published in this book are actually speeches given by the participants of the fifth edition of the World Youth Forum Right to Dialogue. Confirming the consolidated choice for the publication of the proceedings of the previous editions, all texts are included without any my "correction" or interference, in absolute compliance with the words that "young” people have expressed during the forum.  After five years, we can say that the project dedicated to the “Youth culture” of which the Forum is an important part, has been established and has developed far enough. And now, we have to make some reflection about the general criteria with which we have worked in order to make possible further comparisons and growth. We talk and write about the "youth culture", but perhaps it would be even better to talk and write about “youth” "culture", putting between inverted commas both terms, because the commonly accepted definition, just as the two words that form the expression, are higly problematic and continuously redefined. From year to year the Forum invited "young” people from different countries of the world (predominately  from Europe, Africa and Latin America), to develop freely, from their personal point of view and according to their life and study experiences, but also more in general, according to their "cultural" attitudes, the proposed theme. We began with a consideration about the participation to the youth associations and its meaning (I), moving to very involving issues such as future and memory (II: "What memory?" III: "What future?"); in the fourth edition of the Forum we discussed about a really demanding argument: justice (Justice, how?) 1  and in this fifth edition we focused on the relationship between the searching for self and the “spaces” of citizenship.  All contents and the structure of the Forum were chosen consciously. We avoid proposing topics that could be dealt without strong consideration and thoughtful attitude, or without at least an indirect reference to the suitable categories of the scientific discourse. We also avoided to organize parallel workshops at the same time or "simulation" activities for solving problems (forms adopted in several  forums or "youth councils" - European, UNESCO, UN forums, or in some projects of the Youth in  Action); on the contrary we insisted on the classic formula used in scientific conferences with  presentation of papers and debates.  In addition, the topics of discussion were chosen in order to force the crossing of different languages and in a form that directly called into question the subjectivity of speakers, stimulating careful consideration and the intellectual use and definition of terms and categories used or abused in the "common" language that often is a “vulgata" srcinated in the scientific discourse. The aim was to intensify the content of values, of "judgment", in relation to the use of the categories of "normal” sciences, to check how the discourses were constructed, their rigor but also novelty in relation to the content of traditional cultures or presupposed educational models. The "dialogical" aspect (the right to dialogue considered as "fundamental" right, as a further thematic implication that leads to reflections from disciplinary and scientific point of view)  2  served to emphasize the "difficulty" of the dialogue that places problems rather than solve them, giving apparent solutions. We also have to say something about the selection criteria of the "young” people. 1   All edited with an introduction by G. Valera, Ibiskos Editrice Risolo, Empoli, 2009, 2010, 2011, 2012.   2  T he whole series “Dialogue Studies” (Eds. Edda Weigand and Sebastian Feller, University of Muenster-Institute od high Performance Computing Singapore, John Benjamins Publishing Company) is noteworthy: it takes the notion of “dialogicity” as central for studying “languages”.     As for the age, there was a fairly wide range between 18 and 30 years. That means that we’ve chosen elder young people, not in the scholar-age anymore, because in that age boys and girls are still subjected to the charm and guidelines legitimately impressed by their professors. There were some exceptions, like the case of an Albanian school, with which there was an uninterrupted relationship and collaboration, but this cooperation was justifiable thanks to the "young" teacher, who made her own the ideas of the Forum, and wanted to steer her students towards the discussion of the proposed arguments. Even if the age limit was/is very high, however we intended to avoid in general the participation of young people already "professionalized" in the specific area of scientific research or with teaching experience. Publishing the proceedings of various editions of the Forum, with some misgivings, we decided not to indicate neither age, nor fields of study (all this can be grasped by the contents and levels of  formalization of relations), while the countries of srcin are indicated, either because the speakers themselves made direct reference to the "place" they live in, but also because these details have historical significance and this is strongly perceived in the moment in which the speakers work in a transversal way (we may right define this work "interdisciplinary" and intercultural), starting from the soul of their own experiences. . What are the results of these choices? The remarkable scientific production about "youth culture", pertaining to the second half of the last century (especially from the 60s and 70s) and our recent years at the beginning of the century, was interested, and is still interested, in different disciplinary perspectives (sociological, psychological, historical) on the "issue" and the "identity" of youth: it started form the psychoanalytical reading of the evolutionary process of the individual elaborated later in the anthropology of "virtues" (defined as a generational and reproductive potential)  3  up to the identification of a specific youth age based on various criteria and categories (conflict between generations, the relationship between history and memory,  perception of time, the development of languages and the formation of the so-called "generation units", and more recently, adhesion to a transnational cultural koiné).  4  Particularly detailed and complex synthesis made by Patrizia Dogliani raised questions about the time- framing definition of the twentieth century, starting from the perspective of the "constructions" of a youth identity which are never free from ideological sediment and exasperation of political and militaristic activism, and, in the history of Europe, is not separated from the social disciplining and controlling  processes, particularly recognizable in the application of stereotypes 5  and in the history of youth organizations.  6    In the continuity of the ever-changing youth phenomenon it seems that the innovative elements find a continuous restoring. Something new, however, seems to have happened, at least since the 80s of the last century. Roberto  Balzani 7   noticed it in a very emphatic way, comparing the new youth reality of the 80s with the one in 1968 Young people in the 1968 contrasted a cultural memory, but they knew very well what was the “selected" past that they had behind them. The conflict between old and young people, essentially, did not go far from the rules of the game that, up to that moment, had allowed to define social frameworks. On the other hand, after the '80s, the author asks himself, 3   Erik H. Erikson, Gioventù e Crisi di identità, Roma: Armando 2008 (Identity Youth and Crisis, New York: W.W. Norton & Company, 1968).   4   M. Degli Innocenti, L’epoca giovane. Generazioni, Fascismo e Antifascismo, Manduria Bari Roma: Piero Lacaita Editore, 2002 p.60.   5 Paola Magnarelli, I giovani e la guerra. Una relazione intima e complessa, in P. Sorcinelli-A.Varni (cur.), Il Secolo dei giovani: le nuove generazioni e la storia del Novecento, Roma: Donzelli Editore, 2004, pp.24-54.   6 Patrizia Dogliani, Storia dei giovani, Milano: Bruno Mondadori 2003.   7   Roberto Balzani, La concezione del tempo: passato, presente, futuro, in in P. Sorcinelli-A.Varni (cur.), Il Secolo dei giovani, cit. p. 20.     Are we facing such a radical restructuring of systems which gave and transmitted us knowledge that the logical hierarchical and temporal constraint between before and after, basic until yesterday, has been replaced by another netlike system, based on the synoptic perception of a multiplicity of information selected according to probabilistic criteria? Or is it a discursive and contingent effect caused by the main technological medium of the process of  presentification? We are faced with an epistemological twisting of "youth” question and it seems that young people have a lot to say about it.  It’s not by chance that Antoine Cid (Francia), one of young speakers who’s words are published in this collection, recalled the famous statement of Pierre Bourdieu "Youth is nothing else but a word", noting cleverly that this expression doesn’t subtracts intensity to the concept but it rather makes clear that "youth" is a polysemous concept, inviting to reflect upon the diversity of experiences involved, considering issues related to its construction and its subsequent manipulation.  And perhaps it’s time to say also that "culture" is only a word, in the sense expressed by Bourdieu. We’ll discuss this argument at the end of this article, after rereading the texts of participants of the forum,  focusing on the segment of the "youth culture" that is reflected in the papers.  Like any culture,it is the “position” 8   in which the protagonists of the investigation (the young speakers) live and are situated while observe and describe it, using the set of intellectual tools at their disposal that are an essential part of the position itself. To us – in quality of historians, sociologists, philosophers, anthropologists, literary critics, engaged in the scientific venture and therefore placed in different "position" - remains the task of confronting, checking out how our (formal) languages are used, put together, reassembled and manipulated, giving a  possible sense to all. 2. "Identity-citizenship" in the postmodern space. What does identity mean? How is it built and how can we defend it as the expression of "individuality" with its own, special characteristics, that cannot be eliminated without offending those who carry it on, or we should say, are "holder" of it, like everyone is a holder of rights? This theme was repeatedly considered and analysed in the speeches during the forum, and it was intertwined in an srcinal way with other keywords related to citizenship and searching for self.  Is there a "wrong" identity? Nadia Ahmed (Pakistan) seems to question, reflecting on the "community" of transgender, gentle beings who feel their "soul trapped in a wrong body". Are there "wrong" bodies we can ask ourselves with reference to short but interesting debate of some young people with disabilities 9  or engaged in the assistance of people with disabilities?  Nadia’s answer and instinctively our own answer is: No! But things are not so easy: if identity is "something that defines a person" (his flag, his rights, his family, his beliefs), as Nadia Ahmad writes, complaining that transgender people are deprived of all this, then identity is something very complicated that is inside our body and soul, in public and private sphere, in intimate and outer dimension, in the sense of belonging and acceptance, in social relations and in the participation to the community. In "normal" scientific discourse we are used to analyze and use these terms in their oppositional significance, yet in the Forum debates they appear as part of more complex cultural system of references, that is difficult to dissolve so that ultimately become the founding core of a peculiar kind of "citizenship" considered together as status and feeling.  Let's start analyzing the meaning of “belonging” in its relationship with individuality and identity. 8   On “Field” and “Position” in anthropology Vincenzo Matera, Dialoghi culturali. Memoria, Identità, immaginazione nelle società contemporanee, Bologna: Archetipolibri, 2012, p. 21-48.   9 In addition to the short papers on “citizenship and disability” by Ideline Simo and Mohamed Jaber (published below) i would like to mention the oral speech of Tommaso Nonis (“A disabled at school: yes we can”), who ridiculed as factitious and useless, when not hypocrite the politically correct utilisation of the euphemism “differently able”! Similarly Timur Telegin (Belarus) argues that solidarity sometimes hides a loss of citizenship      Human beings are, by nature, social beings, that is to say in our nature we have a need to belong to a group, writes Kruskaya Hidalgo Cordero (Ecuador), expressing also his concern about this sense of belonging that puts the individual at the mercy of a larger instance (society) that "forms and deform". In the same way Martin Neichev (Bulgaria) expresses his "concern" about the transformations that social roles, and especially professional roles, that lead man during his all life almost to a loss of identity. For  Hari Bertoja (Italy), on the contrary (or maybe just from a different standpoint), individuality / identity is expressed in the sense of mutual belonging of individuals and the products to their creative activity; this mutual belonging is weakened by decrease (homologation?) to a collective product. Also in this case identity is threatened, not "recognized".  It seems that the element that is not safeguarded is "the quality and the quantity of exchanges", which are the true citizenship and this is the cause of discomfort, especially for young people who are more exposed to the blackmail of instability and its acceptance. For Petya Zyumbileva (Bulgaria, living in Berlin), on the contrary, the anonymity (that can be noticed for example in the street art) is the indicator of a re-appropriation of the city by its citizens who belong to one another just as, according to Bertoja, men belong to their products. And from the analogous prospective of the street festival and the art in the urban space, Anastasia Vekshina (Russia, living in Poland) considers "citizenship" as an condition characterized by passive belonging, so to say, because through citizenship we belong to the city, since an active citizenship is possible only in community structures of the village (in the village something belongs to us): there is no such thing as “ villagenship ”  she writes, while there is “citizenship” (as an abstract term)! The outcome of Vekshina’s reflection is paradoxical. On one hand she proposes Bertoja’s "concern" that collective elaboration of creativity of citizens may signify an expropriation, made by abstract "citizenship", on the other hand confers on communitarian structures of village (that we are used to consider as pre-modern) a kind of belonging that respects identity and individual subjectivity.  It’s important to notice how the terms in discussion, in the observation and attitude of young speakers, do not have homogeneous status: each one of them is differently declined and argued.  In the face of pervasive concern over the loss of identity and in front of these uncertain statuses of "belonging" and citizenship, we must then ask: what identity, what citizenship we are actually talking about  10 . With more attentive consideration of scientific categories, Shefajet Sala (Macedonia), emphasizes the double profile of identity, sociological and psychological, talking also about the presence of multiple identities in the same subject, often in conflict, with the consequent problematic relationship between identity and "happiness" 11  and various shifts of meaning from the public to the private sphere, from the economic to the cultural one. The theme of the relationship between public and private, in connection to the formation of identity, is one of the most heartfelt issues and appears differently relevant and differently structured according to experiences and the countries of srcin of speakers.    As an example for all, we would like to mention the  paper written by Sina Rahimi (Iran) who insists on the "image" created in the public sphere of the state and media, imprinted so much in the consciousness that it "shapes" relationships and knowledge. Rahimi seems to say that 'image" is something more than a stereotype expressed in words (which can be argued in a certain way and therefore put in question). Negative “image” can be countered only by another image (that comes from another possible “imagination”, one might say, as an action that involves past, 10   On history and consequent complexity of this conceptualisation fundamental P. Costa , Cittadinanza, Roma-Bari: Laterza, 2005 which is a synthesis coming from his monumental works “Civitas: Storia della cittadinanza in Europa , voll.1-4, Roma: Laterza, 1999-2001; P. Kivisto-Th. Faist, Citizenship: Discourse, Theory and Transnational Prospects, Malden-Oxford-Victoria , Blackwell Publishing, 2007; R. Bellamy, Citizenship, a very short Introduction, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008.   11  It is worthy to notice that “happiness” as an indicator of an evente!pered re"ationship #etween Identity and citi$enship  is a recurring topic in the papers. We should suggest to cross this type of reflections with the rethinking of “happiness”, which, starting from the work of Amartya Sen have renewed the discourse of happiness in Economics: Luigino Bruni-Pierluigi Porta, Economics and Happiness. Framing the Analysis, Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005.    memory, and future). That’s why we must take back the positive image of our country, settled in art, culture, and in particular way in the culture of beauty.  It’s in the shadows of the relationship between "public" - "private" dimension 12  that the "psychological"  profile of identity seems to work out better, through the re-appropriation or, alternatively, the cultural expropriation, in the perspective of an identity that is not only plural an conflicting, but rather changing, as the citizenship itself.  It’s not by chance that Antoine Cid (we have already quoted him above) underlines, in an interesting report that presents a study case in the colonial context, how in the definition of the concept of youth, through the rites of passage from one age to another, appears as fundamental the educational program  planned by different institutions for the (young) “colonial” citizen: it creates some kind of identity-citizenship in which the leading élites of the colony grow up. From this point of view it is interesting to note that from their point of view the youngest Albanian students Ergys Çokaj, Xhenifer Nexhimi and  Xhesara Peraj, under the leadership of their young teacher Irma Bilali, express a substantial confidence in the school as a place where is possible to "train" the identity, also in the perspective of the re-appropriation of the cultural past (national and European) through literature.  Analysing this issue Salla refers to the suggestive formulation of Erikson who speaks about nationalistic ideology as of some kind of "metaphysical kinship" that creates Nation as Family, dimension of emotions and passions that cannot be repressed; on the other side she recalls the classic Weber’s definition of ethnicity 13  as an element founded on the belief of a common srcin, some sort of faith to believe in. Based on this consideration Salla proposes to place under one label questions about "religious identity" and "ethnic identity" because both are determined by the "belief" that the group nourishes by establishing a direct connection between what individuals expect for themselves and what they believe in.  It thus becomes clear that the sociological consideration is applied to particular historical realities, such as those of the Eastern and South-Eastern Europe, and how, on the other hand, every time that the matter of identity-citizenship-belonging is faced, every transformation of one or another term profoundly affects all other terms that have formed, or still form the specific "position" in which the reality they have defined or still define and control has found its form and its normalization. So, in the papers of the Forum appears as significant the tendency (we have already alluded) to represent a new “changing” identity, no longer tied to relative stability of belongings, that change itself sign and meaning. Petya Zyumbilieva presents her personal experience of "emigration", from her home country Bulgaria to  Berlin, because of her university studies. It can be easily noticed that in this case it seems inappropriate to talk about "emigration" and that it would be certainly wrong to make a comparison with the great migrations of our time. Yet, there is something very significant in her juxtaposing on one hand the classical need of "identity", important in the recognition of elements that make Bulgaria a country different from other countries (its history, its reaffirmed identity after centuries of domination) and on the other hand the idea, rediscovered through the actions of solidarity, that people "are the reflection of one another", and that this is the changing identity promoted by the processes of integration. Will perhaps even "nations" become reflection of each other in the changing identity of the wider  processes of supranational integration and thanks to the consciousness of their intertwined and mutually conditioned (hi)stories?  It’s from a reflection about language that the meaning of this new identity assumes its shape, migrated  from the national feeling to a place of integration with the other, and vice versa.    Ivana Çagalj (Croatia) is used, as an expert of language and translator, to linguistic adaptations. She 12   Public-Private use and abuse of internet between citizenship and “netizenship” are the special topic presented by Maciej Wiktor in his paper.   13   Reference to Max Weber, Wirtschaft und Gesellschaft, 1921, Chapter. IV.  
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