Punk, Noise & Geopolitics
Room G.11, Armstrong Building
Michael Hepworth (Sunderland University)
‘Punk, noise and transgression: Anarchy in the UK? Adult migrants make some noise!’
Adult migrants to the UK are a relatively powerless group within society. They are often spoken about but seldom given the opportunity to speak for themselves and as a consequence lack audibility (Block, 2007). Worse, they are sometimes positioned as a threat in mainstream political and media discourse (Gabrielatos and Baker, 2008). All this is compounded by neo-liberal approaches to pedagogy which position them passively as semi-skilled or unskilled workers or as consumers of services (Giroux, 2011).
In this presentation, I conceptualise language as a form of noise. I adopt an ethnographic approach, drawing upon both interviews with adult migrants and their teachers and observation data from language learning classrooms. I aim to show how, despite their lack of audibility, and given the opportunity, adult migrants can and do position themselves more powerfully.
Moreover, I focus on how teachers can help them to do this, and so to make more noise, transgressing existing boundaries both in the classroom and in wider society. In doing this, I draw upon participatory pedagogies informed by the work of Paolo Freire (1970).
Finally, I link this increased audibility to the concept of democratic citizenship and show how, through performing ‘acts of citizenship’ (Isin, 2008), language teachers and their students can participate more fully and inclusively in the creation of their own educational and political futures.
John Parham (University of Worcester)
‘Extinction’s Noisy Rebellion: A Punk Anthropocene?’
We’ve entered a new geological epoch marked by humans’ indelible alteration of the Earth: its rock strata, atmosphere, ecosystems. The ‘Anthropocene’ exists now, yet critics, scholars and practitioners have struggled to formulate appropriate aesthetic models. Conventional cultural forms seem too linear and simplistic against the epoch’s ontological, ethical, and political complexities. So, for example, Adeline Johns-Putra has proposed silence (common across environmental art, film, computer games, literature, etc) as both an antidote to the anthropocentric power connoted by realist narratives and as implying ‘an alternative, ecocentric reality’. Yet, invoking the unfathomable geological time which the Anthropocene pulls us back into, silence can also paralyse.
Thrashing about between narrative and nihilism, Anthropocene aesthetics parallels the disjunction between first wave (shocking, but nihilistic) and second wave punk (communicative, but conservative). Here, I’ll consider not silence but noise: how might the disruption and disturbance of noisy punk help us confront and act upon the Anthropocene? Listening to The Ruts’ ‘Babylon’s Burning’ and Siouxsie and the Banshees’ ‘Spellbound’, I’ll deploy Greil Marcus’ concept of negation – by exposing that ‘the world is not as it seems’, noise triggers responses to complex social, political, economic, and now geological forces that it’s otherwise hard to comprehend. In the ‘banal’ Anthropocene’ (Heather Anne Swanson) – where the agents of ecological damage are in everyday life: houses, offices, transport, food, the consumer items re-appropriated by punk – we need noise to shake us out of our complacency; we need to feel our ‘anxiety’.
Lyndon Way (University of Liverpool)
‘Punks’ political opposition in Turkey: Noise against authoritarianism’
‘A noise is a resonance that interferes with the audition of a message in the process of emission’ (Attali 1985: 26). This definition not only refers to unwanted sonic sound, but also unwanted political sound. In Turkey, some Turkish hardcore punk bands produce ‘noise’ in terms of unwanted sound – that being loud and angry. Some also produce political noise – producing subversive anti-authoritative music the government would rather not have available.
In this presentation, I consider how punks create noise to express anger at the Turkish government. I examine how bands ‘borrow’ hardcore punk sounds from the West in a “complex pattern of cross-fertilisation and cultural hybridity” (Shepherd 2003) whilst singing in Turkish to a Turkish audience about very Turkish issues. My presentation is sourced from interviews with members and fans from two hardcore bands. I also perform a multimodal critical discourse analysis of one of their videos and a live performance, examining lyrics, sounds and visuals. This research reveals how bands use Western resources to express subversion or ‘noise’ towards the government and its hegemonic views about how to live in Turkey. By creating noise with a punk DIY approach, noisy punk thrives in a place which is inhospitable to most things alternative, different and not easily controlled.