This webpage accompanies and expands on the book
GENERATION X GOES GLOBAL:
MAPPING A YOUTH CULTURE IN MOTION
Edited by Christine Henseler
GENERATION X GOES GLOBAL:
MAPPING A YOUTH CULTURE IN MOTION
Edited by Christine Henseler
Connecting "X" Dots Around the Globe
“Generation X" is one of the tallest of tales ever sold. Tales of Generation X never told the full story; they never painted the entire picture. Generation X, said the storytellers, came after the most impressive of social and political movements had passed; it was located between the greatest of generations had already made their mark; it was seemingly lost in a time defined by the negative, the disillusioned, and the forgotten. Generation X was a question mark, an unknown quality yet to be determined, perhaps never to be defined. Generation X was a blank, a hole, an identity squeezed between two poles, twisted into a demographic that extracted little, disregarded as dark matter lost in disillusioned space. Who cares, said critics. Whatever, replied Xers.
So why should you bother reading our book about a generation that might coincide with your birth date (between 1960 and 1980) but seems to have nothing in common with you at all? You see, Generation X is more than just a demographic. Generation X is a cohort with personal and political experiences that have marked the way we look at the world and we live in this world.1 As a demographic with a particular worldview, not all of us call ourselves “Generation X,” but many of us recognize the patterns that define our identities when the label is cracked open and moved beyond the white, male, middle-class stereotypes that seem to adhere to the X like superglue.
To unglue the pieces of this label’s puzzle, the contributors of this volume break with the tales most often told of Generation X. By shifting our focus from one culture—Douglas Coupland’s Tales of An Accelerated Culture—to many “Tales of Accelerated Cultures,” as the subtitle of my Introduction suggests, the essays in this volume emphasize the label’s wider cultural birth and breadth without denying the (global) influence of Coupland & Company. Generation X literally goes global through an active process of engagement. Through the over 35 contributions that address the question of “Who Is Generation X?” in any given country around the world, the authors of this book provide new insights into the label’s shortcomings and its boundless potential as it travels from Iceland to Scotland, Japan to East Africa, China to Korea, Colombia, India, and back again. This volume explores, questions, challenges, and connects the spaces between lost “X” tales all over the world. These are tales originally told in Chinese, Italian, Swahili, Russian, or Greek. Tales told through words, music, or pictures. Tales explored about the young and the matured, framed socially, culturally, and politically. These tales tell the story of not one Generation X but of many “X” identities, sometimes clearly determined, sometimes conflicted and contradictory, but always challenging in their cultural specificities and global connections. Together these tales provide dots on a globe, dots that combine to draw a larger picture, a picture of a tale never told, a picture of tales lost, a picture of not one, but many “X” tales that explode off the pages of this book. Here is a pencil. Here are the dots. Fasten your seat belts.
The central authors of this book, 20 scholars residing in 8 different nations and working on 15 different countries, will take you for a joyride along the dots that connect the Gen X globe. Thanks to the diversity of their disciplinary backgrounds, their perspectives are as wide reaching as they are culturally determined. They are doctoral candidates, assistant, associate, full professors, and professionals in fields ranging from cultural anthropology, literature and culture, art history, economics, history, media studies, communications, philosophy, cultural technology, psychology, sociology, and political science. Their diverse backgrounds allow for an approach to the study of Generation X that widens the intellectual scope of the moniker’s traditional associations while identifying the areas and perspectives through which this generation has never before been examined. Together, they present a map mash-up of interdisciplinary proportions, one that at times coincides and converges, at others clashes and challenges the existence of an individual and global “X” consciousness. Whether they use, reject, or remix the label, in unison their essays allow “Generation X” to explode off the page while mashing it back onto the globe.
In this book and webpage you will sense the power of a community of diverse voices working together to create a global vision for a global project through a highly interactive and open format. From distinct corners of the globe, the contributors of this project met for several months in 2010–2011 on a Wiki and read each other’s work, commenting, discussing, and engaging in a process of learning from each other and sharing material, suggestions, and ideas. This vibrant exchange reverberates in the essays of this volume and in the textboxes included throughout the book, leading to some exciting results. The book also includes a series of textboxes that provide an additional space for the over 16 scholars from around the world who contribute to this project. These specialists add their expertise on the existence of a “Generation X” in countries not represented in the longer essays. Their “sound bite” insights are meant to expand on a project that practically speaking cannot cover the entire globe (and is admittedly still missing in perspectives from many countries), but hopes to promote more interest and connections on the subject worldwide. Together, the essays and textboxes function like a network of ideas that move within and among the essays to enrich and embolden, diversify and link material that to this date has been only loosely, if at all, connected in academic scholarship.
This networked dynamic in print is augmented through this webpage (in progress) in which the contributors and I have pulled out excerpts from the book and added additional material ranging from scholarly works, quotations from real-world interviews, videos and remixes, images, music and lyrics meant to expand on the project as a whole. Although the design of this website makes it necessary to divide our work along national borders, the truth is that the project would be better served through a more linked and networked platform, one that could better point to the connections between Generation Xers around the world. Until the day when more dynamic software (I am open to suggestions) can provide for a better linking platform, we present you here with separated, but valuable connection-building blocks, excerpts from the GenX Goes Global book and additional material and space to add on to the project as a whole.
These pages are not meant to be comprehensive, defining or complete, but rather, works in constant progress, beginnings and ends, sound bites of material meant to allow further investigation and constructive connection-building. To that effect, I encourage all readers to send me any additional material related to Generation X (firstname.lastname@example.org) that I will happily post on these or additional pages. Please also send me your blog comments to post on the site for further collaboration and discussion. Any and all works, completed or in–progress, long or short, are welcome.
The goal of this book/webpage project is to re-awaken Generation X to the world, pay tribute to a generational worldview with a long history, a spirit that has gone global, has gone viral, and is here to stay. Whether we give this awakening a demographic or cultural twist, this “X,” “Arab,” or “Spanish” spring has found its voice and is changing the world. Individuals all over the world are protesting long-standing regimes and conditions. In the process, similar tales to those of the 1980s and ‘90s can be heard all over the world: unemployment, environment, corruption, death, we hear. And Xer’s say: of course, we have heard it all before, we have seen it, witnessed and watched it. It has been a long time coming. Why do you act so surprised?
X’ers may have been sitting back, watching the world go by, but through it all we have been paying attention, cynically sniping about the world we were born into and slowly adopting more active roles, developing new technologies, and speaking in different tongues to protest, comment, question, and challenge the tall tales told. As such, we have been laying the groundwork and leading the way for the next generation. We are now passing onto our younger siblings a long-standing “X” quality defined by three letters: DIY. Instead of screaming into a microphone or self-publishing fanzines, as we did in the 1990s, new media technologies are allowing our do-it-yourself philosophies to connect, communicate and collaborate for purposes larger than ourselves. As Mark LeVine suggests, in the conclusion to Generation X Goes Global, it is no surprise that the “radicals” of yesterday—the metalheads and punks—have become the revolutionaries of today. Instead of retelling old stories, these individuals are well versed in telling their own stories, often remixing them to the tune of their own beats and the bristles of their brushes. Instead of swallowing political propaganda, we are Googling for truth. We are now, like then, doing-it-ourselves, the difference being that our individualist and innovative views on the world can reach a million viewers and readers with just one click. As readers of this book will realize, the “spring youth” of today is born from the observations and actions of a youth born a generation earlier and is influencing the generation of tomorrow. Generation X has moved through its own seasons of life and is now turning back the clock: from the fall of the old to the spring of a new dawn.
~ Christine Henseler
Partial excerpt from the Introduction to Generation X Goes Global
With many thanks to all who have and are still contributing to this website.
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TABLE OF CONTENTS
The Ironic History of a Generation
Generation X Goes Global:
Tales of Accelerated Cultures
What Generation X? Moving Beyond the White Middle Class Slacker
A Tale of Three Worlds or More: Young People, Media and Class in India
Jan Schenk and Jeremy Seekings
Locating Generation X:
Taste and Identity in Transitional South Africa
Generation X Meets the Uhuru Generation in East Africa
Generation X Rocks to Scenes, Screens and Comic Strips
Young, Sexy, and Transnational in Mexico and Brazil:
Commodifying the Generation X in Antonio Serrano’s Sexo, pudor y lágrimas and Its Film Versions
Harry H. Kuoshu
A Century-end Rock Scene and China’s Generation X on Screen
Generation X in Greek Comics
Riding on Airwaves, Playing for Real, and Reading without a Net
An Irish Feminist GenX Aesthetic: Televisual Memories in Anne Enright’s The Wig My Father Wore
Frédéric Beigbeder and the French Pop Novel
Virginia Newhall Rademacher
Playing for Real: Simulated Games of Identity in Spain’s Gen X Narrative
Juan Manuel Espinosa
Opio en las Nubes’s Liquid World: Colombia’s Generation X Reads without a Net
Tracing Generation X: Going, Going...Still Not Gone?
Tutti pazzi per amore: Gen X, Italian Style
Russian Youth from the 1990s until 2010: Generational Changes
Carles Feixa, Maricela Portillo, Maritza Urteaga, Yanko González, Oscar Aguilera
From Generation X to Generation @: Transitional Traces and Youth Identities in Latin America
Generation G Comes of Age:
Youth and Revolution in the Middle East and North Africa
Scholars who added additional comments about Generation X in textboxes throughout the book include:
(Scotland and China)
"This edited volume is the first book of its kind to engage critics’ understanding of Generation X as a global phenomenon. Citing case studies from around the world, the research collected here broadens the picture of Generation X as a demographic and a worldview. The book traces the global and local flows that determine the identity of each country’s youth from the 1970s to today. Bringing together twenty scholars working on fifteen different countries and residing in eight different nations, this book present a community of diverse disciplinary voices. Contributors explore the converging properties of "Generation X" through the fields of literature, media studies, youth culture, popular culture, sociology, philosophy, feminism, and political science. Their ideas also enter into conversation with fourteen other "textbox" contributors who address the question of "Who is Generation X" in other countries. Taken together, they present a highly interactive and open book format whose conversations extend to the reading public on Christine Henseler’s personal website."