Young people to challenge academics on ‘youth culture’ theories

As part of the already featured Cultural Olympiad programme, Stories of the World: London, Young Academic can bring you news of an event at which you can challenge academics on youth culture.

To be held on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 November, the Horniman Museum will host its first youth conference.   Challenging academics from across the UK and Europe, more than 100 young people will come together to discuss the ways they are publicly represented and how cultural organisations engage with them.

Each speaker will present their academic thesis, before giving the young audience the ‘right to reply’.  The presented papers and responses will be captured within an online publication to be made available on the Horniman Museum’s website following the conference.

Speakers to be grilled include:

  • Dr Andrew Bengry-Howell, Researcher and Lecturer in the Department of Psychology, University of Bath, on working-class male identities through car modification (also known as ‘pimping’ their cars)
  • Wayne Modest, Keeper of Anthropology, Horniman Museum will present Dr Bronwyn Hayward’s paper on the human rights debate around the “anti-loitering” alarm known as the “mosquito”, only audible to under 25s and used to disperse groups of young people
  • Clair Barratt, PhD, Central Saint Martins College of Art & Design, on how jewellery referencing death has struck a chord with youth culture since the 1980s
  • Lotte De Bruyne, Ladda in Antwerp, on the youth consultation undertaken ahead of a new museum in Antwerp, which resulted in 70 recommendations
  • Olga Van Oost, University of Brussels, on the generalisation and stereotyping of ‘youth’ by museums and their resulting youth engagement initiatives and schemes

Finbarr Whooley, Assistant Director, Horniman Museum, in Forest Hill, South East London, said: “Museums can serve as important civic spaces where the public can engage with culture and ideas in a safe environment. We were keen to create a space where academics who write about young people engage in creative dialogue with young people themselves. Out of this dialogue we believe that new insights can be gleaned into young people’s perceptions of the world and their place within it.

“This all reflects on the mission of Stories of the World: London, to bring young people into museums so we can work to revitalise our exhibitions and spaces for their benefit.  Across 17 boroughs, 23 museums are being re-energised by this project, which in turn benefits their 2.3million annual visitors.”

One of the conference speakers, Dr Andrew Bengry-Howell, added: “My paper explores some of the ways in which young men attempt to create a credible car-based masculine identity through the practice of car modification. I am looking forward to attending this conference, because it will provide me with a unique opportunity to explore how young people are engaged and represented within the context of cultural organisations, and to discuss my own research, with a young audience. I expect to be challenged and to be pushed into communicating in a more coherent and accessible manner than academics are generally prone to, and am looking forward to what promises to be an interesting and exciting weekend.”

Part of the Cultural Olympiad, Stories of the World: London is involving more than 1,000 young people aged 14-24, across 23 London museums in 17 boroughs, to create four major exhibitions for London 2012.

The national Stories of the World project is led by the Museums, Libraries and Archives Council (MLA) in partnership with the London Organising Committee of the Olympic and Paralympic Games (LOCOG). Presenting exciting new museum exhibitions across the UK, created by young people, the project is a direct result of consulting young people. Stories of the World aims to transform the UK’s museums, provide young people with the opportunity to develop new skills and confidence, as well as encouraging broader community cohesion.

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