Interdisciplinary Network for the Study of Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change

AHRC Networking Project: Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change

Between 2013 and 2015 the Network worked on an AHRC-funded project examining youth cultural identity and political (dis)engagement. These were explored via five symposia:

a) Riotous Youth (18 October 2013): This symposium seeks to explore the relationship between popular culture and the urban disturbances of the 1980s and 2011. Firstly, the ways in which popular culture has fed into the collective memory of the riots' legacy will be explored. Secondly, the more recent disturbances will be traced back to the 1980s through analysis of the ways in which responses to the riots of 2011 constituted a reimagining of the past. Throughout, the importance of locality and local memory will be brought to the fore and the symposium will include academics, musicians and writers whose work have been informed by urban disturbances past and present. A special issue of the IARS' Youth Voice Journal will be based on the symposium.

"Retelling the Riots! Music, Community and Civic Unrest" was held on 18 October 2013 at the St Werburgh's Centre in Bristol. Click here for more information

b) Sound Affects (15 April 2014): The focus here will be on popular music. In particular, the symposium will ask how, in understanding the relationship - over time - between subcultures, music and social change, we should research and analyse the particular contribution made by music. Has it, as some have suggested, provided a 'soundtrack' to social history, merely illustrating or symbolising the 'real' business of change; or has it played a more direct part in constituting identities and mobilising action? To answer such questions, the symposium will draw on expertise from historians, political scientists, music scholars and others to develop a framework for the analysis of music's role.

The Sounds Affects event was held on 15 April 2014 at the University of East Anglia. For more details please click here

c) In/between Spaces (5 September 2014): While much research exists on the participation of young people in 'public' spaces, private and semi-private spaces (bedrooms, virtual chat-rooms etc.) remain under-examined. These, however, comprise significant sites for young people with respect to the construction of identities and the development of different forms of engagement or disaffection. This symposium will explore the role of private spaces in the lives of young people, examining the ways in which these interconnect with one another and different public spaces. The objective will be to trace the trajectories through - and between - the multiple spaces that forge cultural, social and political identities.

The In/between Spaces event was held on 5 September 2014 at Liverpool John Moores University. For more details please click here

d) Political Subcultures (31 March 2015): This symposium has two overlapping points of focus. First, the way in which political organisations and subcultures interact. This, in a contemporary setting, has become evident with the English Defence League, but may also be traced back to attempts by communists and fascists in the interwar period and, later, in the 1960s-80s to construct overtly politicised youth cultures. Second, it will examine the politics of youth cultural identity, to which Sylvia Lancaster (head of the Sophie Lancaster Foundation) will talk on the relationship between subcultures, hate-crime and the law. As this suggests, the symposium will consider the politics of identity and the politics of place, examining the ways in which political meanings are projected onto and taken from youth and subcultural forms.

The Political Subcultures event was held on 31 March 2015 at the University of Surrey. For more details please click here

e) Global Subcultures, Local Identities (19 June 2015): By focusing on the development of subcultural fashions, this symposium will consider the ways in which styles developed in one geographic context have been reconfigured and integrated within a wider array of local youth cultures and identities. In other words, it will examine how young people around the world creatively're-embed' globally-circulated subcultures within local contexts. This, in turn, will emphasize the dynamic, fluid character of subcultural fashion, particularly its ability to cut across influences of age, ethnicity, gender, class and sexuality.

The Global Subcultures event was held on 19 June 2015 at the University of West London. For more details please click here



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