- UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs
- The Phil Lind Initiative Speaker Series: Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
The Phil Lind Initiative Speaker Series: Xiuhtezcatl Martinez
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Xiuhtezcatl Martinez (first name pronounced Shoe-Tez-Caht) is an advocate, leader, activist and hip hop artist with Indigenous Mexica roots. Now 23 years old, he has been on the frontlines of the climate and environmental movement since the young age of 6 and is widely recognized for his passionate and unwavering fight for climate justice. Named one of Rolling Stone Magazine’s “25 under 25” and one of Time Magazine’s “TIMES Next 100,” he has been involved as a plaintiff in multiple legal proceedings—calling out the U.S. government and giants of the fossil fuel industry for failing to take necessary action on climate change. Xiuhtezcatl has spoken multiple times at the UN, addressing the General Assembly and has also spoken on panels with the likes of Bernie Sanders, Van Jones, Shailene Woodley, Bill McKibben, and Pharrell Williams.
Xiuhtezcatl is also an artist at his core, using his music as a yet another platform to share urgent messages of Indigenous solidarity and care for the planet. Collaborating with musicians including Atlanta rapper Raury and Grammy nominated musician and actor Jaden Smith, his quick-witted lyrics challenge systems of injustice to envision a better future.
Xiuhtezcatl Martinez has been a guest on the Daily Show with Trevor Noah and Real Time with Bill Maher. He has also been featured multiple times on PBS, Showtime, National Geographic, Rolling Stone, Upworthy, The Guardian, Vogue, Nickelodeon, Comedy Central, CNN, MSNBC, HBO, Netflix, VICE, as well as photographed by Annie Leibovitz.
Pop Politics: Pop Culture and Political Life in the United States
Popular culture plays a vital if complicated role at the heart of American political life. The music, movies, memes, podcasts, shows, and novels that saturate our daily existence reveal much about how American society thinks about itself and how it understands politics. The narratives conveyed through pop culture often seek to reflect the realities of American life and, in so doing, help shape those realities. A testament to its influence, more people experience politics through mass culture than they do through formal political acts. This speaks to the potential power that pop culture has for getting Americans – and younger generations in particular – engaged with the political debates that define our era. But pop culture, susceptible as it is to manipulation and underpinned by commercial interests, is not without potential pitfalls for democratic societies. This series asks how the defining debates of American political life are represented in pop culture and, in turn, how pop culture helps define them. Going beyond the substantive content, it also offers a critical eye to the mediums of pop culture and how they shape how we understand politics. Ultimately it explores the promise and peril of pop culture in how we understand, experience, and practice politics in the United States.