Youth organizations have long played significant roles in promoting particular forms of nationalism among young people in the UK. To date, however, academic studies of UK youth organizations have been Anglocentric, focusing on youth organizations associated with a hegemonic British state and imperial project. This paper seeks to show how youth organizations have also been used to promote alternative forms of nationalism in the UK, which have sought to challenge a British state and imperial project. Focusing explicitly on Wales, it examines how Urdd Gobaith Cymru – the Welsh League of Youth – has played a significant role over the past 90 years in promoting a Welsh and Welsh-speaking citizenship amongst Welsh youth. Drawing on documentary and archival research, the paper discusses how the organization has fostered particular practices and identities among its members and the way in which these have been challenged in recent years; most notably as a result of a decline in the numbers of Welsh speakers in Wales and changing configurations of the meanings of Welshness. The paper concludes by arguing for the need to take seriously the role played by youth organizations in helping to shape political geographies in a devolved Britain.
Published: January 2016