IOE - Faculty of Education and Society


Race, Class, Youth and the City

27 October 2021, 12:00 pm–1:00 pm

Three young adults on a stone bench reflected in a puddle at Granary Square, Kings Cross.

The second webinar in our Youth and the City webinar series focuses on the inter-related issues of race, class, youth and city. It will be particularly useful for those interested in youth studies, urban sociology, sociology, human geography, race, class and urban planning.

This event is free.

Event Information

Open to







Avril Keating

Presentation 1: Blasted Places – Smog, Steel and Stigma in a Post-industrial Region

Professor Anoop Nayak, Newcastle University

In 2015 the death knell tolled on Redcar steelworks in Teesside, North East England, ending 170-year-old history of steelmaking in the region. The nearest major urban agglomeration, Middlesbrough, was literally brought-into-being with the discovery of iron ore, the rise of heavy engineering and later developments in petro-chemical manufacture.

Steel-manufacture, engineering and industry provided a stable future for generations of young people in the region.  But what happens when an area, spawned from the material elements of the Anthropocene, is no longer regarded as profitable? When the iron core of its very constitution implodes, leaving it depicted as a redundant, polluted and blasted place?

This paper explores this transition and how Middlesbrough has come to be stigmatised as a ‘sulpherous zone’ (Wacquant, 2007), tarnished by chemical pollutants, high rates of unemployment, drugs and longstanding early teenage pregnancy.  It investigates the heavy weight of stigma in Teesside, how it comes to be attached to bodies, neighbourhoods, the natural environment and social life more generally.  However, contrary to the work of Wacquant (Wacquant, 2007; Wacquant et al. 2014) and other urban sociologists writing on territorial stigma, the study explores forms of local resistance and collective attempts by residents to reclaim, rework and re-script the supposedly stigmatized places they reside in.

Presentation 2: The Creative Underclass

Dr Tyler Denmead, University of Cambridge

In his book The Creative Underclass, Denmead critically examines his paradoxical role as the founder of an American-based arts studio for youth. Some young people have credited the studio with providing transformative educational experiences, while, at the same time, acting as a gentrifying force in their neighbourhoods.

Denmead will discuss how the concept of the creative underclass is useful in understanding this paradoxical dispossession-through-inclusion and the ways in which young people trouble the racial logics of creative-led urban transformation.

About the Youth and the City series

Through this series, the Centre for Global Youth explores the latest research on youth and cities. Over five weeks during October to November 2021, these 1 hour online seminars will bring together a range of guest speakers to share new research and engage in dialogue about how young people use, relate to, challenge and remake urban spaces.

Spanning research in cities from the Global North and South, session topics will include precarity, race, social class, activism, music, and youth voice. Contributors will draw on theories from sociology, human geography, anthropology, political science, and beyond. Overall, the aim of the program is to overcome silos of urban sociology, youth studies and allied fields, and encourage further conversations at critical intersections of youth and cities.

Related links

Image: Maureen Barlin via Flickr (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

About the Speakers

Professor Anoop Nayak

Professor of Social & Cultural Geography at Newcastle University

His research interests are in: race and ethnic studies; youth, culture and social Class; and gender, masculinities and social Change. Anoop has published widely in these areas and is author of Race, Place and Globalization: Youth Cultures in a Changing World (2003 Oxford: Berg).

He is co-author with Mary Jane Kehily of a joint monograph Gender, Youth and Culture:  Global Masculinities and Femininities (2013 2nd Ed. Basingstoke: Palgrave MacMillan), and has published a social theory book on spatial relations of power with Alex Jeffrey entitled Geographical Thought (Routledge, 2013).  

Anoop is currently leading a funded project exploring ‘Young People, Diversity and Belonging in a Post-Brexit Age’ (REA) and an ESRC co-production award exploring masculinities and care, ‘Boys to Men:  Developing New Templates for Masculinities in Primary Schools’.

Dr Tyler Denmead

at Faculty of Education at the University of Cambridge and at Queens’ College.