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Encountering geopolitical pasts in the present: young people’s everyday engagements with memory in the Falkland Islands

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Matt Benwell

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Abstract

Young people’s geopolitical subjectivities are heavily informed by past events in ways which have not been sufficiently acknowledged in the existing literature on youth geopolitics. This paper demonstrates how work on memory can be brought into dialogue with critical geopolitics to identify the assemblage of socio-spatial practices that shape how young people learn about geopolitics. It interrogates what memories and their attendant landscape manifestations and rituals ‘do’ to young people growing up in the Falkland Islands, a society that continues to live with the legacies of a sovereignty dispute that triggered the Falklands War just over 30 years ago. Young Islanders’ embodied and relational encounters with memory through the surrounding environment and adults are shown to play an important role in shaping their perceptions of contemporary geopolitical relations with Argentina. These can both reproduce and/or rework collective memory narratives, emphasising the importance of looking beyond mnemonic discourses manifest in institutional and official spaces. The paper makes a conceptual contribution to debates about young people’s agency in relation to geopolitics. While children and young people are considered active agents capable of forming their own views, they are also presented with potent memories of past geopolitical eras that propagate certain understandings of international relations. Engaging scholarship on memory can help address the tensions inherent to recognising children and young people as social and (geo)political actors, within the context of structures, institutions and relationships that have a strong bearing on how their agency is expressed. In a methodological sense the paper illustrates how research might productively incorporate the adults who are influential in the formation of young people’s geopolitical subjectivities.


Publication metadata

Author(s): Benwell MC

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Transactions of the Institute of British Geographers

Year: 2016

Volume: 41

Issue: 2

Pages: 121-133

Print publication date: 01/04/2016

Online publication date: 20/01/2016

Acceptance date: 16/11/2015

Date deposited: 17/11/2015

ISSN (print): 0020-2754

ISSN (electronic): 1475-5661

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell

URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/tran.12109

DOI: 10.1111/tran.12109


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