Symposium: Adolescents in the Americas

Ana Ramos-Zayas of Baruch College/CUNY (left) and Bowdoin's Ingrid Nelson

Ana Ramos-Zayas of Baruch College/CUNY (left) and Bowdoin’s Ingrid Nelson

The influence of race, class and citizenship status on adolescence was the focus of Adolescents in the Americas: Negotiating Identities, Shaping Contexts in an Interconnected World, a symposium held on campus Oct. 3-4, enabling critical conversations on privilege, belonging and social capital amongst teenagers.

“The purpose of the symposium was to bring together leading scholars from across the country and beyond to talk about adolescence in Canada, the U.S. and Latin America,” said Assistant Professor of Sociology Ingrid Nelson, who organized the symposium along with Associate Professor of Education Doris Santoro and Associate Professor of Anthropology Krista Van Vleet. “We focused on the issues that adolescents face that cross national boundaries.”

Doris Santoro of Bowdoin (left) and Nilda Flores-Gonzalez of the University of Illinois

Doris Santoro of Bowdoin (left) and Nilda Flores-Gonzalez of the University of Illinois

Adolescents in the Americas incorporated research on a wide range of demographics. Scholars from a variety of institutions – including Columbia University, Northwestern University, Colby College, UMass Amherst, and the University of Toronto – discussed how impoverished Latino youths negotiated their American identities as well as how privileged students perceive their affluence. Nelson’s presentation, incorporating in-depth interviews and encompassing issues of socioeconomic advancement, focused on how rural Maine students from different class backgrounds pursue options of higher education.

The event was attended by students from a variety of fields, including members of Nelson’s “Race and Ethnicity” course. “I thought the speakers were all really fascinating,” said Sunjay Priyadarshan ’14. “I liked that they tapped into issues of immigration and class and capital in specific ways and addressed topics of affluent students and people who go back to their country of origin.”

The fields of anthropology, sociology and education merged as experts from varied fields shared their unique perspectives on adolescent identity formation in different social contexts, building a multifaceted academic analysis of American adolescence over the course of the symposium.

This was the third in a series of four symposia led by Bowdoin faculty this fall, assembling experts from near and far to exchange ideas about topics spanning a wide range of disciplines including sociology, science, art and history.

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