Harvard Educational Review
  1. Fugitive Cultures

    Race, Violence, and Youth

    By Henry Giroux

    New York: Routledge, 1996. 220 pp. $16.95 (paper).

    Fugitive Cultures: Race, Violence, and Youth focuses on the relationship between children's culture and the ravaging cultures of racism and violence as they are produced through multiple codes and representations in diverse cultural locations. Chapter one examines how films about Black and White youth are racially coded to depict violence among White youth as an aberration, while violence among Black youth is seen as an indictment of an entire racial group. Henry Giroux addresses how such films can be used through a cultural studies paradigm to take up considerations of power, identity, and social justice as both pedagogical and political projects. In the second chapter, Giroux looks at the world of Disney animation, particularly the more recent films, and explores how children's culture is addressed through a false politics of innocence, a spurious appeal to entertainment, and the commercialization of the everyday life of children. In the third chapter, Giroux analyses the emergence of a new kind of hyper-real violence in films such as Pulp Fiction. He argues that hyper-real violence must be seen as a pedagogical practice that subordinates politics to a gritty realism, an esthetic formalism that reproduces very distinct and negative racial and sexual coded messages.

    In chapter four, Giroux looks at the anti-political correctness movement, and examines its implications for teaching youth what it means to learn, become a citizen, and deal with the complexities of race. Chapter five explores the often ignored relationship between the resurgence of a new nationalism in the United States and its relationship to the politics of multiculturalism. Chapters six and seven take up the issue of what it means to be a public intellectual both in the university and in the sphere of popular culture. Giroux focuses on the latter by addressing the emergence of talk radio as a new public sphere. The last chapter concentrates on the limits and the possibilities of agency among youth by addressing the relationship between youth and "convenience store culture" and what it suggests about the future of work for many working-class kids. It also addresses how the basketball court has become the new public sphere for Black youth. Giroux investigates these issues through a critical interrogation of the films Clerks and Hoop Dreams.
    This may be the most daring and best book that Giroux has written in his attempts to link pedagogy with a variety of cultural spheres. With such a thoughtful and lucid analysis of the relationship among youth, violence, and race, Fugitive Cultures is a book that every educator should read.

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    Book Notes

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