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Youth Sexualities: Public Feelings and Contemporary Cultural Politics [2 volumes]
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xii Introduction systems, non-governmental organizations (NGOs), activist collectives, popular media, digital space, peer networks, and beyond? Contributors to these volumes do not offer “truths” about youth sexualities rather, they explore the roles of public feelings in shaping formal and informal knowl- edge and practices—from those of the scientist to the young blogger, the teacher to the street performer, the Disney film to the youth worker—and why these feelings matter. In its movement through spaces and circula- tions of pleasure, shame, fear, curiosity, disgust, hope, belonging, rage, ambivalence, and vulnerability, this collection constitutes a partial gesture toward an “affective mapping” (Flatley 2008) that places actors in “rela- tionship to broad historical forces” (4) and shows how individuals and communities take up and live out their various positions. In this introduction, I discuss the visibility of youth sexualities in the contemporary world, turning briefly to explore “moral panics,” a topic that resurfaces in more than a few chapters in this collection. I then situate public feelings as part of affect theory, describing how attending to public feelings enables understanding of adult and institutional responses to youth sexualities and of the ways young people imagine and create identi- ties, affiliations, and belongings. RECIRCULATIONS OF PUBLIC FEELINGS ABOUT YOUTH Public feelings from hope to fear fuel social ideas about who and what youth are, what they need, and how they become “good adults.” At once natural and deviant, innocent and dangerous, youth need education, mon- itoring, and development. Youth live in worlds in which they too “feel these ideas” as they create sexual subjectivities, identities, and social prac- tices. Converging and contradictory public feelings about youth sexuali- ties, whether perennial anxieties or celebrations of youth, “stick” (Ahmed 2004, 11) to youth, shift, and reassemble across contexts as new actors and practices appear. Sites such as schooling, sexuality education, families, popular culture, peer networks, activism, and the digital world reflect and refract these multiple feelings and connect youth sexualities to questions of citizenship, the nation, and adulthood itself. No less than race, gender, and socioeconomic status, adolescence “is essential to defining and limit- ing citizenship” as social practices and ideologies control and monitor youth “through codes of respectability and boundaries of exclusion” (Cox 2015, 12). Researchers have documented social and institutional silences, efforts to regulate youth sexuality, and protectionist practices to shield presum- ably vulnerable youth from dangers, such as predators or the media. Ideals