Abstract The article approaches the theories of communication in/from Latin America based on the work of the Mexican anthropologist Rossana Reguillo, in particular from her book Culturas juveniles [Youth cultures], originally published in 2000 and reprinted in 2012, which has had a great impact in cultural studies, on communication and youth studies. The author presents a theoretical-ethnographic journey organized in five stages: reading youth, mapping identity, interpreting biopolitics, ethnographing emerging cultures, and rethinking citizenship. From the body to technopolitics, Reguillo constructs a hermeneutic map as a travel guide to the emerging and insurgent landscapes of contemporaneity. El artículo se aproxima a las teorías sobre comunicación en / desde América Latina, a partir de la obra de la antropóloga mexicana Rossana Reguillo, en particular de su libro Culturas juveniles, publicado originalmente en 2000 y reeditado en 2012, que ha tenido un gran impacto en los estudios culturales, sobre comunicación y juventud. La autora presenta un recorrido teórico-etnográfico organizado en cinco etapas: leer la juventud, mapear la identidad, interpretar la biopolítica, etnografiar las culturas emergentes, y repensar la ciudadanía. Del cuerpo a la tecnopolítica, Reguillo construye un mapa hermenéutico a manera de guía de viaje hacia los paisajes emergentes e insurgentes de la contemporaneidad. O artigo aborda as teorias da comunicação em / da América Latina, com base no trabalho da antropóloga mexicana Rossana Reguillo, em particular do livro Culturas juveniles [Culturas Juvenis], originalmente publicado em 2000 e reimpresso em 2012, que teve um grande impacto nos estudos culturais, da comunicação e da juventude. A autora apresenta uma jornada teórico-etnográfica organizada em cinco etapas: ler a juventude, identificar o mapa, interpretar a biopolítica, etnografar as culturas emergentes e repensar a cidadania. Do corpo a tecnopolítica, Reguillo constrói um mapa hermenêutico como guia de viagem para as paisagens emergentes e insurgentes da contemporaneidade. Reguillo, R. (2012). Culturas juveniles. Formas políticas del desencanto [Youth cultures. Political forms of disenchantment]. Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 2nd ed. 187 pp. ISBN 978-987-629-202-3. [1st. ed.: Emergencia de culturas juveniles. Estrategias del desencanto. Buenos Aires: Norma, 2000]. Me gusta ir a pintar bardas y después ir a lavarlas [I like to paint walls and then go clean them up] (Café Tacuba) The book reviewed here by the Mexican anthropologist and communication theorist Rossana Reguillo was published in Spanish in two emblematic years: the original appeared in the Enciclopedia Latinoamericana de Sociocultura y Comunicación (Grupo Editorial Norma, Buenos Aires) in the year 2000, at the millennium divide that threatened to reset not only computers using Windows, but also the passage into the second modernity. The updated edition was published in 2012 by Siglo Veintiuno Editores, with a significant change in the title—youth cultures are no longer “emerging” —and with a new foreword by the author and a new chapter, the sixth, that in her own words “seeks to be the hinge between the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st” (Scolari, 2013, para. 6). This was shortly after squares in many parts of the world were filled with the Arab Spring and Indignados’ protests, and while the movement in which Reguillo was active, #YoSoy132, emerged in Mexico like a self-fulfilling prophecy of the book’s theories about the strategic capacity of youth cultures to communicate the political forms of disenchantment. Reguillo updated the book during her time as New York University’s Andrés Bello Chair, where she could integrate her experience of years of study and fieldwork with youth groups from different countries. Between the first and the second edition, four relevant changes had occurred: the advance of the international financial crisis and its consequences on youth bodies; the advance of networked society; the advance in youth cultures studies (led by the author as the Latin American counterpart to the Birmingham School); and the advance of Latin American cultural studies. This latter advance was represented by two much-referenced authors with whom Reguillo collaborated and engaged in dialogue for years. Reguillo’s work interweaves with Néstor García Canclini’s (1989) arguments about youth as a scenario for emerging hybrid cultures and Jesús Martín-Barbero’s (1998, 2017) reflections on youth cultures as identity palimpsests. Starting from her pioneering ethnography about youth gangs in Guadalajara, México, which focused on forms of street communication (Reguillo, 1991), in Youth Cultures the author put forward a theoretical-ethnographical journey organized in five stages: considering how to think about youth, mapping identity, interpreting biopolitics, conducting an ethnography of emerging cultures, and rethinking youth citizenships. Reguillo proposed an analysis of the biopolitical dimensions integrated within the body: the materiality into which youth identities and practices are anchored and upon which power is exerted. With this aim, in the chapter on ethnography she reviews key cases of identity denominations defined by young people themselves through processes of cultural hybridization: punks (fusion of anarchism and postmodernity), taggers (fusion of local and global), raztecas (fusion of rap and neo-indigenism), and dilleis (Mexican version of the disc jockeys, fusion of shamanism and technology). In all cases, she went beyond mapping the aesthetics, searching for the links with politics through an original approach in relation to Anglo-Saxon cultural studies and arguing that “it is not possible to envisage communication apart from sociocultural processes and the reverse” (Reguillo, 2005, p. 197). As she stated in the introduction, the book is not only about young people, but also about communication. “In its strategies, in its forms of communicative interaction, in its perceptions of the world, there is a social text waiting to be deciphered: that of a lower-case type of politics that can render the world, the locality, the future and each day a better place to live” (Reguillo, 2012, p. 15). Young people seek meaning beyond institutional expressions that, in their view, don’t make any sense, so new forms of organization, political participation, and communication arise from their disenchantment. While this disenchantment manifests itself as indignation, rage, or sadness, Reguillo claims that, once we add a political dimension to it, it becomes agency, or “active disenchantment.” From this point of view, young people are “discursive subjects and social agents, with the capacity to take hold of (and to mobilise) social and symbolic objects and material objects” (2012, p. 30). That is, Reguillo recognizes this active role in their capacity to negotiate with institutions and structures; she acknowledges their subjectivity. Thus, the challenge, or hope, lies in turning young people’s disenchantment into new forms of collective actions. The book is a comprehensive analysis of young people and youth culture that avoids the term subculture, due to its Western and hierarchical nuance; it is also an in-depth reflection that neither lays blame on young people nor idealizes them. The author believes that youth cultures manifest themselves with expressions, symbols, and languages in order to hide both hope and fear at the same time. Reguillo is very honest from the beginning, already making her ideological stance and its implications explicit in the first chapter. On the one hand, the book is a good example of how to study a phenomenon at the intersection of different disciplines—sociology, anthropology, history, and communication—with a strong critical component and political commitment. It also makes a significant contribution as a theoretical-methodological model of how to carry out a sociocultural analysis of a topic. Through deep historical and social contextualization, it studies the bewilderment of young people in the social context where they are inserted and the causes that brought this bewilderment about. It accepts that youth identities are globalized, while at the same time sustaining the historical and cultural specificity. Finally, it provides a rationale of the methodological stance taken, the interpretative–hermeneutical perspective that transcends essentialist stances “without losing the centrality of gender, ethnics and territory centrality” (Reguillo, 2012, p. 37). From a methodological perspective, the book lays the foundation for rethinking concepts, categories, approaches, empirical analyses, and interpretations. It moves away from the mechanical relationship between practices and their representations, inasmuch as they limit themselves to the descriptive, empirically-observable dimension. It is original in its way of linking macro and micro aspects and social and subjective dimensions. Reguillo’s interpretive-hermeneutics perspective intends to harmonize these two positions; she seeks to overcome the inner/outer dichotomy as part of an inseparable tension in the production of scientific knowledge. Ultimately, she seeks to transcend essentialist stances and depart from another level “that is not limited to the anecdote or the empirical data” (Reguillo, 2012, p. 31). Her critical research model allows her to analyze the relations between structures and subjects, starting from an active understanding that is defined as it takes place. To that end, she puts forward a multiple research strategy that combines different techniques such as observation, biographies, focus groups, and data analysis. According to Reguillo, rigor is not methodological rigidity, and she therefore defends the diversification of quantitative and qualitative instruments. The book is a good example of this triangulation. Reguillo believes that opposing scientific styles do not respond to geographical contexts (Anglo-Saxon versus Latin American), but rather to ways of approaching scientific practice. She recognizes that in the Latin American academic culture there is a tendency towards a more socially and politically committed type of research. Latin American intellectuals claim to carry out “studies about cultures” (Reguillo, 2005, p. 193), not cultural studies. They start from culture as the center of their analysis, and hold a critical stance in the face of reality and asymmetrical conditions of power. In addition to the political vocation, there is a disciplinary disassociation. “The transdisciplinary has been, more than a methodological approach, a necessity in Latin America” (Reguillo, 2005, p. 193). The lesson for cultural studies and for youth studies is to avoid becoming a new subspeciality, instead promoting the synergies between disciplines, topics, and methods with young people’s cultural practices at the center. Since its first publication, as numerous citations in Google Scholar prove, the impact of Reguillo’s book has been enormous, both on youth and communication studies, although unfortunately limited to the Ibero-American context due to lack of a translation into English. The book, as well as Reguillo’s subsequent work and reflections within and beyond social networks, are indispensable for educators, communication theorists, politicians, and social and youth analysts across geographical and cultural contexts; her original views would merit translation to English. Reguillo remains committed as an activist to the constant analysis of how this disenchantment is changing at present. She does so through Facebook, where she has a vast community of followers of diverse profiles (young people, researchers, journalists, etc., from Mexico and beyond), and where she claims to be constructing “a new collective word, a new grammar of politics” (2012, p. 17). Her research from this privileged observatory has been recently published in Spanish (Reguillo, 2017). Funding Transnational Gangs as Agents of Mediation (TRANSGANG). European Union: HORIZON-2020, European Research Council - Advanced Grant, 2018-2022 [H2020-ERC-AdG-742705]. Competencias mediáticas de la ciudadanía en medios digitales emergentes en entornos universitarios, Ministerio de Economía y Competividad, 2016-2018 [EDU2015-64015-C3-2-R]. References García Canclini , N. ( 1989 ). Culturas híbridas. Estrategias para entrar y salir de la modernidad . Ciudad de México, México : Grijalbo . (English translation: Hybrid cultures. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota Press, 1995). Martín-Barbero , J. ( 1998 ). Jóvenes, des-orden cultural y palimpsestos de identidad [Youth, cultural dis-order and palimpsests of identity]. In H. J. Cubides , M. C. Laverde , & C. E. Valderrama (Eds.), ‘Viviendo a toda’. Jóvenes, territorios culturales y nuevas sensibilidades . Bogotá, Colombia : Siglo del Hombre Editores . Martín-Barbero , J. ( 2017 ). C. Feixa and M. Figueras (Eds.), Jóvenes, entre el palimpsesto y el hipertexto [Youth, between the palimpsest and the hypertext]. Barcelona, España : NED . Reguillo , R. ( 1991 ). En la calle otra vez. Las bandas: identidad urbana y usos de la comunicación [In the streets again. The Gangs: urban identity and uses of communication]. Guadalajara, México : ITESO . Reguillo , R. ( 2005 ). Los estudios culturales: el mapa incómodo de un relato inconcluso . Redes.com, Revista de estudios para el desarrollo social de la comunicación , 2 , 189 – 199 . Retrieved from https://dialnet.unirioja.es/servlet/articulo?codigo=3661154 Reguillo , R. ( 2012 ). Culturas juveniles. Formas políticas del desencanto [Youth cultures. Political forms of disenchantment]. Buenos Aires: Siglo Veintiuno Editores, 2nd ed. [1st. ed.: Emergencia de culturas juveniles. Estrategias del desencanto. Buenos Aires: Norma, 2000]. Reguillo , R. ( 2017 ). Paisajes insurrectos. Jóvenes, redes y revueltas en el otoño civilizatorio [Insurgent landscapes. Youth, networks and riots in the fall of civilization]. Barcelona, España : NED . Scolari , C. A. ( 2013 , July 3). Entrevista a Rossana Reguillo. Digitalismo.com. Retrieved from http://www.digitalismo.com/2004-2014/entrevista-a-rossana-reguillo/ © The Author(s) 2018. Published by Oxford University Press on behalf of 1 International Communication Association. All rights reserved. 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Communication Theory – Oxford University Press
Published: May 10, 2018
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