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Thinking Youth Popular University as a Participative Space: Focus on a Speakers’ Corner Experience, between Participatory Culture, Citizen Commitment and Political Empowerment

Abstract : This paper draws on the first results of an ongoing research (2017-2021), on the implementation of a Youth Popular University (YPU) in a French metropolitan area (Northern France) (Azizi & Maury, 2018). Our objective is to study the actions developed under this project, and specifically, during the first phase, how young people (18-30 years old) are mobilizing, in particular when involving in speakers' corner experiences. The results are based on the data collected throughout the SC implementation process: from the reflection on a previous SC experience (strengths, limitations), to the mobilization of young people during a training phase, until the key moment of its effective implementation. In an anthropological perspective, we consider the SC as an evolutive process, as it is experienced by the actors (Turner & Bruner, 1986), paying attention, beyond their narratives, to their "ways of being" in the world, between individual and collective, sensible and intelligible. As designed in the project, as potential space, the “speakers' corners” (SC) offer opportunities to live complex experiences. “Young people have critical faculties, critical sense, naturally developed, but not always well controlled, when expressed through violence or anger. How to channel criticism, with method, to make it constructive, sending a clear message? “ asks the project manager. From enclosed space to public space (plaza in front of a station), the speakers' corners” are a platform for free speech, for expression of critical consciousness on transverse issues (City as a playground; Youth and environment “Free your voice”) : more theatrical on esplanade (outdoors), they attract passersby, arousing curiosity ; placemaking reinforces connections between people and spaces they share: reflection on how take ownership of the city, thinking everyday spaces and their potential (making common spaces, the heart of community). From the microphone to the megaphone, the voice amplification brings a performative dimension. The power of words and images is reinforced by the amplification of sound (increased presence, in other physical spaces; appening/appropriation of public space). The live interventions on the plaza find an extension via the Facebook of the People's Youth University (YPU): this virtual presence is at the origin of interactions (likes, comments, questions), it contributes to make SC and YPU known. Towards a speakers’ corner literacy? Young people develop communication and expression skills, both oral and written (only a small digital part) : how to communicate and promote ideas (points of view, experiences, information), preparing for participation. The project manager insists on three key words: thinking a message; attracting and engaging the audience; conversing, reinforcing dialogue.
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Contributor : Yolande Maury Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Wednesday, January 6, 2021 - 5:14:29 PM
Last modification on : Tuesday, May 17, 2022 - 9:59:22 AM


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Yolande Maury, Asmaa Azizi. Thinking Youth Popular University as a Participative Space: Focus on a Speakers’ Corner Experience, between Participatory Culture, Citizen Commitment and Political Empowerment. Information Literacy in Everyday Life. 6th European Conference on Information Literacy, ECIL 2018, Sep 2018, Oulu, Finland. ⟨sic_03100656⟩



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