“No More Bad Future!” Punk, Political Participation, and Human Rights, Abstract by Annette Karpp

One of the first associations that comes to one’s mind when talking about punk is the famous slogan of the Sex Pistols: “No future!” With their song “God Save the Queen” as well as their rebellious, nihilistic, and anti-establishment attitudes, the English punk rock band inspired a whole generation. For some of its members punk was over as soon as it was labeled as such, but recent examples show that punk is not dead. On the contrary, since the late 1970s punk music and lifestyle became a global phenomenon which followed its own political agenda(s). A well-known example for this development is the cooperation of members of the Russian female punk collective Pussy Riot with Amnesty International in New York City in 2014.

Against this background, my Ph.D. project studies the tension of certain punk attitudes such as anti-establishment, anti-capitalism, the Do-It-Yourself ethos and strategies of political participation through punk music, as well as the collaboration with social movements and NGOs as gatekeepers for human rights. Since I perceive punk as a lifestyle, I am not only focusing on the music or the role of punk artists, but address the strategies of political participation applied by punk rock musicians, fans, show organizers, broadcasters, producers of music and film, as well as journalists.

My presentation “No More Bad Future” shall give some insights into my current research on New York City’s punk scene and its interplay with the discourse on human rights. In this context, I focus on two case studies: 1st, the intersection(s) of Queercore/Homocore and LGBT(Q)-Rights in the 1980s; and 2nd, the connection of the Riot Grrrl Movement with Women’s Rights in the early 1990s, and onwards.

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