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Tiffany Pollock

Fire dancers in Southern Thailand, almost exclusively young, intra-/international migrant men from rural Thailand and Myanmar, are paid to entertain tourists at nightly beach parties. An unacknowledged economy fueled largely by tips, fire dancing is fast becoming an iconic symbol of Thailand’s young backpacker tourism sector but is not considered an acceptable form of labor or a valued artistic practice, because tourist beach spaces are perceived as sites of immorality, excessive drinking, and sexuality. Male fire dancers, then, come to be known as young social deviants who do not belong in the national imaginary and thus must maneuver around a complex politics of belonging with vast differences in social and economic power. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork, this article examines how belonging is negotiated among Burmese fire dancers working in Thailand, and how experiences of belonging are shaped by spatialized gendered moralities and masculinities that operate within the fire dancing scene.

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Michael R. M. Ward and Thomas Thurnell-Read

This special issue of Boyhood Studies considers how a group of international scholars have engaged with the concepts of boyhood and belonging as a complex personal and powerful process. In different ways, the authors highlight how belonging is an ongoing negotiation within one’s surroundings. The international research presented here compels us to conceptualize belonging and boyhood as something that is not only infused with individuals and collective histories, but also interwoven within different conceptions of place and space. These places and spaces are experienced in multiple ways within different social contexts. We contend that this special issue is positioned at an important time in studies of boys and young men. As boys and young men experience their transition into adulthood with increased precarity, it is time we take theories of boyhood and belonging seriously. These theories can open up new spaces and provide critical insights into young lives.

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“Something Outside of Ourselves”

Crossing Boundaries in New Disability Documentary Cinema

Anna Debinski

Documentary film has traditionally perpetuated damaging cultural understandings of disability. However, Astra Taylor’s Examined Life (2008) and Bonnie Sherr Klein’s Shameless: The Art of Disability (2006) utilize documentary techniques to problematize the culturally constructed boundary between disability and able-bodiedness. Spectators are dragged into simultaneously traditional and innovative relationships with the spaces, bodies, and lives inhabited by the documentaries’ disabled subjects. These relationships encourage connection and intimacy even as they contain moments of distance and alienation. The films’ ambivalent representations foster an appreciation of disabled bodies as a reflection of valuable human diversity and a denaturalization of disability’s Otherness. As examples of new disability documentary cinema, the documentaries reflect the political potential of complex and affective representations of disabled subjects.

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Allison Macleod

chairs we sit on are closely packed together to maximize audience space, and yet even as I bang elbows with those on either side of me and feel my knees pressed up against the seat in front of me, the excited and jovial mood of the surrounding crowd

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Conditional Freedom

A Portrait of Young Men's Sense of Belonging to the Street in Maputo, Mozambique

Andrea Moreira

young men navigate the spaces of urban life in the context of economic and social exclusion is the focus of this article. It is centered on the experiences of a group of young men who spent their days in a marketplace in Maputo, the capital city of

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Martin Woodside

space of “perennial rebirth,” where savage meets civilized to form the “dominating American character” (1894: 2). Assessing this mythic rebirth, Richard Hofstadter borrows D.H. Lawrence’s description of James Fenimore Cooper’s novel series The

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Daniel Lewis

negotiation is especially apparent in texts wherein Dickens contradictorily depicts the bedroom as a space where men struggle with anxiety, namely the anxiety over control, while simultaneously embracing sleep as the opportunity for the disorderly freedom of

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Ambivalent Sexualities in a Transnational Context

Romanian and Bulgarian Migrant Male Sex Workers in Berlin

Victor Trofimov

Doing ethnographic research in a familiar environment may be a challenging enterprise, since the researcher always runs the risk of letting the ethnographic field and their own personal space get intertwined. This miscegenation, if you will, was

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"I Don't Want to Spend My Life under a Toilet Seat"

Aspiration, Belonging, and Responsible Masculinities in the Lives of White, Working-Class Boys in a Youth Inclusion Program at the YMCA

Ross Wignall

Working with a cohort of boys aged 14–18 and classed as not in employment, education, or training (NEET) at the Young Men’s Christian Association (YMCA) in the UK city of Brighton and Hove, this article follows their progress as they engage with instructors and other pupils at the YMCA, using qualitative modes of inquiry to explore their reactions, feelings, and attitudes. As I demonstrate, their aspirations and sense of emergent manhood is often predicated on new relationships generated in the YMCA spaces rooted in a culture of caring and responsible masculinity founded on implicit Christian values. Through interviews with young men and the people around them, I probe some of the tensions in this process, showing how persistent attachments to places and spaces beyond the YMCA can create feelings of ambivalence and, in some cases, a sense of alienation and marginality even as they begin to feel that they belong.

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Rural Failures

Representations of (Im)mobile Young Masculinities and Place in the Swedish Countryside

Susanna Areschoug

Critical boyhood scholars have consistently problematized the moral panic directed at boys’ educational achievements, for instance, by illustrating how the issue is intersected by power hierarchies such class and race, but have not been as attentive to the spatialized dimensions of this discourse. In the Swedish debate, boys in (post)industrial towns in rural regions—affected by decades of deindustrialization—are often pointed out as at risk of becoming unemployed societal liabilities. Documenting the lives, aspirations, and future trajectories of young and rural working-class boys, the television series The School Boys (Skolpojkarna) analyzed in this article reproduces this trope and connects anxieties regarding “redundant” masculinities with rural spaces. Using feminist and post-structural approaches to gender and space, I show how this media production, supplied for educational purposes, mediates normative understandings of young rural masculinity.