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Project Update April 2021

Kia ora koutou

Tau Hou Hari (a little belated due to a technical issue!) Hopefully you and yours are safe and well, no matter where you are. Although our data collection is now completed, we do continue to think about you all, follow your groups and the wonderful work you’re involved with. We are very grateful for your generous gift of participating in our research and it’s now our turn to give something back to you and the broader community via our research work. We have been busy since our last update so below we’ve briefly summarised the things that we hope will be of interest. If you’d like to know more, don’t hesitate to contact any of us. These are the highlights of what we’ve been doing to make sure that the information you gave us is circulated to a range of audiences:

  • Bridget Williams Books have agreed to publish a book about our findings from the project. This should be available to the public in the first half of 2022. We recently had a weeklong writing retreat in Auckland where we began writing some of the chapters on the six groups taking part, plus some broader writing about young people and social change in Aotearoa. If you asked to be named when you consented to participating in the project, you will be contacted about any quotes we use – unless you don’t want to be contacted or have changed your mind about being named, in which case please let us know.
  • In November last year Karen and Kyle chaired a session at the Social Movements Conference in Wellington. Someone from each of your groups participated in a panel and there was a fabulous turnout of people to hear more about your work. Panel members were asked to discuss how the Covid-19 pandemic had impacted upon their work and they outlined a range of ways that the groups had continued their important work through and after lockdown.
  • We published an article called “Living in and out of time: Youth-led activism in Aotearoa New Zealand” in the academic journal Time and Society. This is available online but if you are unable to access this and would like a copy, just email and we can send you a PDF. The abstract is at the end of this blog post if you want to get a sense of what the article is about. Following the publication of this article Karen and Joanna presented on this topic at the Material Life of Time Conference in March.
  • In early February, Carisa presented at the Settler Responsibilities for Decolonisation Symposium in Auckland. She discussed our work-in-progress titled “‘So people wake up, what are we gonna do?’: From paralysis to action in decolonising activism.” We had so much great material from everyone about how groups think about Treaty engagement, decolonisation, and settler colonial responsibilities that we could only fit a small portion of it in the presentation. But what you all shared with us over the past few years suggested to us a continuum for thinking about and acting on settler responsibilities, and fleshing out the continuum was the focus of the presentation. Carisa, Karen and Kyle have been invited to submit an article based on this presentation to a special edition of the journal Ethnicities which we will do in June.

Those are the highlights of what we have done since the last blog post. Along with the book our ongoing work includes two academic articles (one in collaboration with participants) and work towards presentations at an upcoming conference where Karen will present at the Edinburgh University’s virtual event Moving from Despair to Hope in April. This is a public event so if you are interested in attending online and catching up with recorded presentations, you can register here or view the presentations here when they are made available. We have also received some queries from different groups and organisations in order to help them recruit, support and sustain young activists and are happy to contribute insights from our research to your group – just contact us.

Also please let us know if there are other ways of disseminating research information or events you think we could contribute to. We are really keen to reach a wide audience and you are likely to know of other things and ways that we are not so aware of.

And to sign off, we would like to use the project’s grounding theme of optimism: we sincerely hope that this year is a positive one for you and that there is progress on the social justice issues that concern all of us.

Ngā mihi,

Jude, Karen, Carisa, Kyle and Joanna

Abstract for Living in and out of time: Youth-led activism in Aotearoa New Zealand

Addressing past and present injustices in order to create more just futures is the central premise of most social movements. How activists conceptualise and relate to time affects how they articulate their vision, the actions they take, and how they imagine intergenerational justice. Two social movements for change are emblematic of different relationships with time: the struggle to resolve and repair past injustices against Indigenous peoples and the struggle to avert environmental disaster, which haunt the future of the planet. We report ethnographic research (interviews and participant observation) with young activists in these two social movements in New Zealand: Protect Ihumātao seeks to protect Indigenous land from a housing development, and Generation Zero are lobbying for a zero-carbon future. We argue that analysing activists’ articulations and sensations of time is fundamental to understanding the ways they see themselves in relation to other generations, their ethical imperatives for action, and beliefs about how best to achieve social change. Protect Ihumātao participants spoke of time as though past, present and future were intertwined and attributed their responsibility to protect the land to past and future generations. Generation Zero participants spoke of time as a linear trajectory to a climate-altered future, often laying blame for the current crises on previous generations and attributing the responsibility for averting the crisis to younger generations. How activists conceptualise time and generational relations therefore has consequences for the attribution of responsibility for creating social change. Understanding and learning about temporal diversity across social movements is instructive for expanding our thinking about intergenerational responsibility which might inform ways of living more respectfully with the planet.

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