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Figuring the Future

Globalization and the Temporalities of Children and Youth

Edited by Jennifer Cole and Deborah Durham

Child laborers in South Asia, child soldiers in Sierra Leone and Uganda, Chinese youth playing computer games to earn virtual gold, youth involved in sex trafficking in the former Soviet republics and Thailand: these are just some of the young people featured in the news of late. The idea that young people are more malleable and the truisms that “youth are the future” or “children are our hope for the future” give news stories and scholarly accounts added meaning. To address how and why youth and children have come to seem so important to globalization, the contributors to this book look at the both the spatial relations and the temporal dimensions of globalization in places as far apart as Oakland, California, and Tamatave, Madagascar, in situations as disparate as the idealization of childhood innocence and the brutal lives of street children. Discourses of, and practices by, youth and children, from the design of toys to political mobilization, are critical sites through which people everywhere conceive of, produce, contest, and naturalize the new futures.

2008. 320 pp., 7 illustrations, appendix, notes, references, index, 6 x 9

Contributors: Anne Allison, Ann Anagnost, Jennifer Cole, Deborah Durham, Paula S. Fass, Constance A. Flanagan, Tobias Hecht, Barrie Thorne, Brad Weiss

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“Poignantly rendered by the authors of this volume’s essays reinforce its central claim about the importance of using youth culture as a lens for increasing our ‘understanding of the figuring of the future for all age groups in the contemporary moment.’”
—Nicole Newendorp, Harvard University, Journal of Comparative Family Studies, vol. 41, issue 3

“This volume constitutes an excellent product of…child focused studies….Contributors underline the dynamism in children and youth lives and the connections between their micro contexts and globalscapes….If the core question that inspired the book is how the future is figured, the contributors to this volume have succeeded in offering new insights into the forms of agency and the social dimensions that will be influential in this process.”
—Valentina Mutti, University of Milan Bicocca, Italy, Ethos, 8/09

“This edited volume will be a welcome and much sought after addition to the vibrant and expanding literature on childhood, youth, and globalization.”
—Lukose Ritty, University of Pennsylvania

“Any scholar dealing with contemporary childhood will certainly profit from consulting this book.”
—Peter Stearns, George Mason University


  1. Introduction: Globalization and the Temporality of Children and Youth
    Jennifer Cole and Deborah Durham
  2. Childhood and Youth as an American/Global Experience in the Context of the Past
    Paula S. Fass
  3. Imagining Global Futures in China: The Child as a Sign of Value
    Ann Anagnost
  4. “The Chinese Girls” and “The Pokémon Kids”: Children Negotiating Differences in Urban California
    Barrie Thorne
  5. Fashioning Distinction: Youth and Consumerism in Urban Madagascar
    Jennifer Cole
  6. Private Anxieties and Public Hopes: The Perils and Promise of Youth in the Context of Globalization
    Constance A. Flanagan
  7. Apathy and Agency: The Romance of Agency and Youth in Botswana
    Deborah Durham
  8. Pocket Capitalism and Virtual Intimacy: Pokémon as Symptom of Postindustrial Youth Culture
    Anne Allison
  9. Chronic Mobb Asks a Blessing: Apocalyptic Hip-Hop and the Global Crisis
    Brad Weiss
  10. Globalization from Way Below: Brazilian Streets, a Youth, and World Society
    Tobias Hecht

There are no working papers for this book at the present time.