By Any Media Necessary: Mapping Youth and Participatory Politics

Conversations with Activists and Educators

Starting in January 2014, the Media, Activism and Participatory Politics (MAPP) research team began organizing a series of convenings with diverse groups of activists and educators in the United States.

Over the past five years and under the guidance of Henry Jenkins, MAPP conducted five case studies of diverse youth-driven communities that translate mechanisms of participatory culture into civic engagement and participatory politics. Our findings stress the interplay between individual growth, organizations, networks, communities, and platforms. As MAPP researchers learned, these groups often succeed by tapping practices of cultural appropriation, storytelling and remixing, working across organizational contexts, deploying metaphors from popular culture, and drawing on sustained engagement with interest-driven and friendship-based networks.  Over time, youth involved in these communities mapped innovative and imaginative trajectories that scaffolded existing skills and interests towards a sustained ability to achieve social change.

In the early days of MAPP’s research on participatory politics, the team planned to utilize the scalar platform, a free, open source authoring and publishing platform that is characterized by its ability to support media-rich narratives, to create a book companion to the forthcoming print book, By Any Media Necessary (NYU Press), which is based on the case study research described above. As the research and writing progressed, the MAPP team realized they had a unique opportunity to use scalar to create something even more robust that would allow, not only students reading the book, but also educators and activists in the field to a) gain a better understanding of civics in the digital age and b) use the information to spark discussion, collaboration and action in their own communities and networks, and c) integrate MAPP materials into existing educational curricula. With the sponsorship of MacArthur’s Educating for Participatory Politics (EPP) initiative and the hard work of a dedicated team of students, RAs, faculty, and other MAPP team members, the “By Any Media Necessary” (BAM) resource grew to encompass the variety of resources it holds today.

As we transitioned from research to outreach, the MAPP team recognized the importance of encouraging dialogue among the young activists involved with the project. Organized in conjunction with other YPP projects, the activist and educator convenings outlined in this section draw from the main themes/findings of the upcoming By Any Media Necessary book as well as the BAM resources. Specifically, the convenings highlight 4 key themes that emerged from MAPP research: storytelling, civic imagination, defining and measuring success, and working through any media necessary.

Explore this path to learn more about our conversations with activists and educators.

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