Mimi Ito Writes on ‘Skate Life’

by kris bishop on June 4, 2010

Skatelife_cover

This entry is reposted from the blog of Mimi Ito, series editor for Technologies of the Imagination.  It was originally posted on May 29th, 2010.

I’m happy to announce (a bit belatedly) the first book in the Technologies of the Imagination series I am editing with Ellen Seiter with University of Michigan Press’ digitalculturebooks imprint. Emily Chivers Yochim’s Skate Life: Re-Imagining White Masculinity is a nuanced look at the culture and practice of skateboarders. The description of skate culture draws from popular media, as well as ethnographic research with skaters in Ann Arbor, Michigan. I have to credit Ellen and our editors Tom Dwyer and Alison Mackeen (formerly at UMich Press and now at Yale U Press) for seeing this book through to publication, but I am super proud to be able to claim it as part of our series!

The book does a lovely job of explicating the unique cultural nexus occupied by skaters, arguing that skate culture offers an alternative form of athletic identity that is defined in opposition to dominant sport culture and white masculinity. While Yochim recognizes that skate culture does not fundamentally challenge dominant conceptions of gender, race, class, and sexuality, she does appreciate the positive ways in which skaters construct a form of masculine identity centering on values of freedom, joy, individualism, and aesthetics. The subculture provides a way for boys to be cool and desirable while also resisting the dominant “jock” identity of competition and self-violence. I particularly appreciated the ways in which Yochim traces the contours of an interest-driven subculture, driven by passionate engagement, peer learning, a DIY ethic, and deep personal identification — all topics that are near and dear to my own heart.

As with all the books in the digitalculturebooks imprint, you can read Skate Life for free online, and it is released on a Creative Commons license.

We are actively seeking new manuscripts to add to our roster for this series, so please feel free to contact me with any ideas. Here is a brief description of the series, and a longer blog post is here from when it was launched a while back.

Technologies of the Imagination investigates what it means to be living and growing up in an era saturated with digital media. Through detailed studies of everyday practice, this series will feature work that offers a vivid and grounded perspective on contemporary culture, paying particular attention to the point of view of children and youth. Possible topics include:

* Ways of relating online through social network sites, multiplayer gaming, online forums chat, mobile phones, and other social modalities.
* Media creation practices enabled by digital production tools, including video, creation, computer game modifications, art, music, and photography.
* Literacies and practices of writing embedded in popular youth activities such as texting, instant messaging, and blogging.
* Peer-based knowledge economies that are flourishing online through sharing sites such as Wikipedia and specialized interest such as media fandom and gaming.

Titles in this series will be approximately 40,000 to 60,000 words; employ sophisticated research methods to shed light on key aspects of youth engagement with new and convergent media; be accessible to an interdisciplinary readership, and sensitive to the diversity of contexts in which new media use takes place.

Technologies of the Imagination will be published by digitalculturebooks, a new imprint of the University of Michigan Press and Library. All digitalculturebooks titles are available in print, through the UMP website and from booksellers everywhere, and for free online at www.digitalculture.org.

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