Reviewed by: Association for Feminist Anthropology
Of interest to: Practicing and Applied Anthropologists, Students
Primary Theme: Resilience
Secondary Theme: Climate Change
Across the world, young people and their families face new or exacerbated modes of material and social precarity. The policies and practices of globalized neoliberalism-what Povinelli (2011) calls economies of abandonment-coupled with the exigencies of climate and environmental change have challenged millions to seek out new livelihood options in order to survive in the present, and to reimagine possibilities for a different kind of future (cf. Li 2014). This panel follows Butler (2009: ii) to define precarity as a condition of insecurity or dispossession that is politically made, differentially experienced, and related to gender-norms. We ask: what are the gendered consequences of these experiences of and responses to contemporary modes of precarity?
Drawing from research in diverse contexts, including communities in India, Malawi, Uganda, and the US, panelists will consider what happens when efforts to maintain social structure-often through the expansion of patriarchy-occur at the same time that girls' and women's survival options contract. We will think through (1) how young women and their peers and families navigate constrained environments and make sense of their future options; and (2) how different social forces and actors, including international development institutions, religious organizations, and community and cultural leaders, make gendered interventions upon young people. We pay particular attention to diverse projects that seek to influence futures through education and/or efforts to shape young people's sexuality and reproduction-both future-oriented practices. Stambach (2017: 2) notes that "education is a social field on which the future is imagined, and temporalities concerning youth are emblematic of wider concerns about opportunities and obstacles." Likewise, girls' bodies, sexuality, and fertility have long been spaces in which diverse actors have worked out and sought to mitigate broader moralized panic. These interventions, too, are temporalized. Bringing together anthropologists of gender, sexuality, and education, the panel will offer an opportunity to reflect on what can be learned from current, gendered manifestations of moral panic, moralized anxieties, and the often-regulatory actions made in the name of varied moralities, particularly as they relate to and influence young people's lives and (im)possible futures.
Finally, we will consider to what extent this moment is new-that is, what is (or isn't) new about these converging forces, including moral panic, gendered precarity, environmental change, and projects focused on female sexuality. What, if any, new strategies do people deploy to manage the exigencies of life on the edge? How does climate change, in particular, shape imagined possibilities and daily practices? How are young people's processes of sense-making unique to the contemporary moment?