Politics Is Our Daily Bread: New Youth Political Subjectivity in Latin America

Monday, 11 July 2016: 14:15
Location: Hörsaal 48 (Main Building)
Oral Presentation
Darcie VANDEGRIFT, Drake University, Department for the Study of Culture & Society, USA
As a social generation in Latin America, young adult activists across the political spectrum work in an uncertain and unfixed context in which desired futures are articulated without an existing present to bridge to said future.  This paper analyzes Venezuelan youth political subjectivity, the inner processes which people do to adapt to changing social, economic, cultural, and psychological circumstances.  They respond with new formations of participation and political subjectivity.  Our paper theorizes youth political subjectivity in Latin American through analysis of ethnographic data on Venezuelan young adults between 2008 and 2012, the height of popularity of Hugo Chávez’s “Bolivarian Revolution.” These data include sixty interviews, analysis of material culture, and visual data that include graffiti and online sociality.

Youth politics in Latin America increasingly cross previously assumed dichotomous categories:  between culture and politics, individual and institutional, global and local, virtual and “real.”  We find that political subjectivity is increasingly decoupled from parties, unions, and the state. Global cultural repertoires intersect with localized and territorialized interests. Activism extends beyond traditional sites to new forms of action and among new places: marginalized sectors of urban and rural society, feminist and indigenous politics, sexuality, and cyberspace.  Young adults simultaneously engage institutions while participating in deinstitutionalized, interactional politics.  The paper concludes with consideration of how Venezuelan youth political subjectivity illustrates the concept DIY citizenship suggested by global north youth studies but also differs due to the unique context created in-place.