Cold War Kids: The Ideologies of Punk in the East and the West

AHA Session 191
Saturday, January 7, 2012: 2:30 PM-4:30 PM
Erie Room (Sheraton Chicago Hotel & Towers)
Neil Nehring, University of Texas at Austin
Neil Nehring, University of Texas at Austin

Session Abstract

This panel will examine the phenomenon of punk during the late 1970s and 1980s in the contexts of the United States, the Soviet Union, and France to understand the relationship between the various movements and the impact of local contexts and politics on the expression of punk ideology.  As an ideology, punk is confrontational and anti-authoritarian, attacking systemic forms of repressions through symbolic means.  As a stylistic revolt, punk interrogated social norms in public manner, challenging observers through both fashion and attitude.  Musically, punk quickly became both aesthetically diverse and rigidly catholic.  Tellingly, the politics of punk were often unclear, as the musical genre could signify essentialist expressions of white, working-class culture, New Leftist conceptions of cultural engagement, or a libertarian celebration of the individual within an atomized society.  Such variations suggest that the globalization of punk transformed its meaning in response to the differing ideological conditions in which punks found themselves.  These papers will investigate three different scenes to illustrate how the meaning of punk transformed as it moved across national boundaries during the Cold War.

See more of: AHA Sessions