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Penn GSE Perspectives on Urban Education, v7 n2 p4-18 Fall 2010

In this paper, the author looks closely at two spaces where students engaged in practices and forms of cultural production with transformative possibilities. Specifically, the author sought out spaces where youth came together for one of two important purposes: to cross boundaries of difference or to affirm and re-imagine identities. The two spaces discussed in this paper capture best the limits and possibilities of such spaces. Specifically, these spaces highlight how performative forms of cultural production both reproduced and challenged the dominant institutional dynamics with respect to difference. Students created and ran one of the spaces, Lyric, an after school hip-hop club. The other space, an Asian American Studies class, came into existence through the collective efforts of a group of Asian American students. Building on the youth spaces literature, the author uses Conquergood's (1989; 1991; 1992) synthesis of performance theory as a framework for discussing the role of performance in Lyric and the Asian American Studies class. By focusing on the role of performance, he demonstrates how performance theory can enrich the important scholarship on youth spaces. Moreover, he calls attention to how forms of performance can play a significant role in supporting the social and academic work that takes place in such spaces. Here, the author describes each youth space separately, focusing his analysis on one key performance in each: the cipher, an improvisational rap performance, and the performance project that he developed with an Asian American Studies teacher and his students. The author concludes with a brief discussion of the role of leadership in structuring and facilitating the work of youth spaces.

Descriptors: American Studies, Program Effectiveness, Asian American Students, Cultural Pluralism, Cultural Differences, Popular Culture, Asian Americans, Performance, Youth, Music, Leadership Responsibility, Identification (Psychology), Ethnicity, Clubs, High School Students, Urban Schools, Consciousness Raising, Poetry

University of Pennsylvania, Graduate School of Education. 3700 Walnut Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104. e-mail: journal[at]; Web site:

Autor: Cytrynbaum, Joe


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