About the Book
At first glance, Generation Z (youth born after 1997) seems to be made up of anxious overachievers, hounded by Tiger Moms and constantly tracked on social media. One would think that competitors in the National Spelling Bee--the most popular brain sport in America--would be the worst off. Counterintuitively, anthropologist Shalini Shankar argues that, far from being simply overstressed and overscheduled, Gen Z spelling bee competitors are learning crucial 21st century skills from their high-powered lives, displaying a sophisticated understanding of self-promotion, self-direction, and social mobility. Drawing on original ethnographic research, including interviews with participants, judges, and parents, Shankar examines the outsize impact of immigrant parents and explains why Gen Z kids are on a path to success.
About the Author
Shalini Shankar is Professor of Anthropology and Asian American Studies at Northwestern University. She is the author of Beeline: What Spelling Bees Reveal about Generation Z's New Path to Success (Basic Books, 2019) as well as Advertising Diversity: Ad Agengies and the Creation of Asian American Consumers (Duke Press, 2015) and Desi Land: Teen Culture, Class and Success in Silicon Valley (Duke Press, 2008). She is a cultural and linguistic anthropologist whose ethnographic research focuses on youth, media, language use, race & ethnicity, and Asian diasporas. A Guggenheim fellow and National Science Foundation grant recipient, she is the mother of two Gen Z children.