Wednesday, January 09, 2008

EUKN - European Urban Knowledge Network - Superlocal Identities - the value of European urban youth cultures

"The development of urban youth cultures in Europe proves that despite their mostly US origin, they often function as channels for voicing national and local concerns. There are many European experiences to be explored and shared. Phenomena such as street fashion, independent publishing and hip hop have the potential to open up European elite-driven paradigms of quality, culture and citizen participation", Tommi Laitio states in his article. The commercial sector has been quick to realise the value of youth cultures and now widely supports them. Politics and the mainstream media however have been late to realise this value and now have a lot of catching up to do. The interest of those institutions is often driven by fear and not by real curiosity. Public authorities also run into the difficulty of supporting youth activities which are considered illegal (parties/festivals, posting, graffiti). According to Laitio, European media and public bodies should recognise the artistic and positive aspects of subcultures and apply this recognition beyond the mere use of youth cultures when issues of, for example, integration are discussed. In addition, more needs to be done at the public level to cultivate the conditions in which youth cultures can thrive.Tommi Laitio is a journalist and cultural worker living in Amsterdam.EUKN - European Urban Knowledge Network - Superlocal Identities - the value of European urban youth cultures

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SuperLocal Identities also relevant in the Arctic?
Yes would be the answer in my opinion. Emerging youth cultures throughout the Arctic show that despite their inspiration from US or European culture, they very often function as channels for voicing local and national concerns.
I'm not sure that I would use the term superlocal identities, although I use the term glocal (combination of global and local) which may/may not be about the same thing. The phrasing maybe different in Tommi Laitios article but I agree, that local enterpreneurs in the Arctic have opened up for contemporary quialities of urban cultures/subculters. I also agree that media have done very little in promoting contemporary cultural streamings. The priority maybe A) first self-determiantion b) on our own premisses c) about who we are.

Examples from the Canadian Arctic:
BluePrint for Life - connecting with Nunavut Youth through HipHip. Check the project website and read about the support from local authorities. BlueprintforLife

Examples from Greenland:
Prussic - HipHop trio from Greenland's capital raised a number of issues on their "Misiliineq siulleq" CD. Issues concerning values of family life, use of illegal substances, political engagement and nepotism etc. Other rappers such as PeandEL or TuuMotz (formerly Nuuk Posse) adress critical issues considering contemporary conditions in Greenland.

Examples from my own research in Sisimiut (urban community in Greenland, situated above the polar circle; approx. 6000 citizens):
In my dissertation (officially due in 2009) I'll have many examples of global cultural streams raising local issues.
For the moment there is peticularly one issue which pups up - the issue of MotoCross activities outside the city, raising a problem involving the local museum (preservation of cultural values), municipality & police (dealing with motorbikes in/out the city, polution, rights and laws), nature guide (promoting cooperation and awarness) and the youth club. I'm not going to tell the whole story here, but it can be summed up in following lines. Many young people are skilled and dedicated motocrossers but have not got any place to pursuade their activity in Sisimiut. Through debates with local authorities, representatives of young people raised issues about the lack of arenas for motocross, skateboarding, bmx etc. The debate was not a clash of opinions, but joint effort to find a way, money and organisation which would support different cultural activities (next to dog-sledging, skidoo riding, sports etc...) Suma summarum - despite different opinions about youth cultural activities, not only do young people use their "lifestyle" to raise issues about good life in their hometown, but also receive a great deal of support from local authorities. I think I can reveal, that the planned motocross/bmx/shooting arena hasn't yet become a reality but I'm confident that it will. The process has started.

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