Youth and the Performing Arts in Southeast Asia: Negotiating place, belonging, and society


Double Panel

Part 1

Session 7
Wed 14:00-15:30 REC A2.06

Part 2

Session 8
Wed 16:00-17:30 REC A2.06



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This panel seeks to bring together current and on-going research that takes a youth studies approach to the performing arts across Southeast Asia. Adopting a youth studies approach, implies foregrounding the diverse roles and experiences of specific groups of young people in various forms of performing arts, including (but not limited to) dance, music, theatre and forms of street-based arts (e.g. Damrhung, 2022; Geertman, Labbé, Bourdreau, & Jacques, 2016; Huijsmans, 2022; Kurfürst, 2021). It further implies a shift in focus; away from the established, towards more marginal (and at times marginalized) and emerging actors, sites and ephemeral forms of expression of the performing arts in Southeast Asia. Thereby, a youth studies approach illuminates intra- and intergenerational contestation as well as continuities in the development of performing arts and artists, and includes reflection on the role of significant adult others, ranging from parents and teachers, to (inter)national agents of cultural development such as national ministries and international actors like, for example, the Goethe Institute. A youth studies approach may also focus on young people’s engagement with the performing arts in relation to other dimensions of being young and growing up (such as youth culture, life-course dynamics as well as the government of youth) – including paying attention to gendered and classed dimensions. Finally, a focus on youth and the performing arts can also work as a window on larger processes of social change. For example, through the performing arts young people may prefigure or explore desired futures or, in contrast, draw attention to current or looming crises in a youthful style (Hill, 2022; Mitchell, 2018). The emplaced characteristics of many forms of performing arts also make for fertile ground for spatial analyses, exploring how, through the arts, young people engage in the politics of place, inscribing places with new social meaning, appropriating public spaces, or creating new spaces altogether. In addition, a focus on the spatiality of the performing arts would also include the role of intra-Asia and the international movement of artists and styles in the process of artistic development (Chen and Chua, 2015), including the role of the diaspora in this.