Race, Place and Globalization: Youth Cultures in a Changing World

booksRace, Place and Globalization: Youth Cultures in a Changing World by Professor Anoop Nayak provides a useful insight into the growing area of youth studies by highlighting the nature of youth identity and how it connects to local space and the globalised world. The book concentrates on youth, ethnicity and social change in the northeast of England, and the significance of the local and the global in the lives of young people is explored. Race, racism and whiteness are explored in relation to research conducted by Nayak throughout the years, but in particular data is included from the three year ethnographic project that reached out to hear the voices of local young people in the northeast through interviews, interactions and observations in a diverse range of neighbourhood and school settings.

Youth is defined and discussed in relation to the history of subcultures. We gain an introduction to the socio-historical importance to youth studies of The Chicago School of Sociology, University of Birmingham’s Centre for Contemporary Cultural Studies, and The Institute of Social Research at Frankfurt University, as well as feminist and postmodernist critiques of subcultural theorists. The book is situated in the field of social geography but is interdisciplinary in its content and would be of great interest for sociology, cultural studies and educational research students who are reading about and researching about race, racism and whiteness, as well as the importance of place in the lives of young people. Nayak structures his book into three parts: Passing Times, Changing Times and Coming Times.

The chapters in the Passing Times section provide a broad understanding of the origins and critiques of subcultures, as well as the socio-political context of diasporic settlement in northeast England. We also gain an understanding of the ways in which anti-racism and racism operate in the northeast of England. The conclusion of this section reminds us of the urgent need to research young people’s local place-based belongings and new local identities. In Changing Times, Nayak focuses in detail on whiteness in the de-industrialised northeast, particularly the fascinating identities of the young people who fit into distinct categories of Geordies, Wiggers and Charvers.

Key questions that are answered thoroughly are: What does it mean to be young and white in the northeast? How does economic change reflect upon local young people’s sense of identity? What is the importance of place and race in a changing globalised world? The features of this de-industrialised locale are fully explored in relation to migration, economy and culture by describing how socio-economic changes have impacted upon the lives of the local white working-class communities. The final section, Coming Times, draws together the research previously discussed with a reconsideration of anti-racism policies and youth cultures, all the while pointing towards the need for the study of the complexity of modern multiculturalism and how young people negotiate their identities amidst social upheaval.

The book provides an interesting and necessary understanding of how race and ethnicity configure in the lives of young people in the northeast of England, particularly in respect to their practices of work and leisure, all the time emphasising how in an increasingly globalised world, place and identity are ever significant. Nayak proposes modern multicultural societies can pursue social justice through engaging with local youth identities and cultures, and recognising the significance of race and ethnicity in the lives of young people.

Nayak reminds the readers that young people’s sense of identity should be understood from multiple intersectional positions. Nayak successfully illustrates how local place and space continues to matter even if globalisation has become the dominant theory of choice, and even if the postmodernist argue that modern society is characterised by a sense of placelessness. The connections between race and place are brought to prominence in this engaging and important ethnographical account of young people’s experiences of identity that draws upon historical, cultural and structural perspectives.

Sadia Habib is a PhD candidate in Educational Studies at Goldsmiths, University of London.


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