Friday, July 9, 2010

Discussion: Underground vs. Popular Culture

CSEC's next discussion will explore underground/popular culture dynamics, as well as the discursive modes surrounding this in social theory. Some basic theoretical starting points for discussion follow: are the categories "underground" and "popular" necessarily opposed? Are they dialectical or complementary? Music genres such as heavy metal, punk, rap, and techno/house can trace their formations to underground, grassroots movements - do they encounter an ontological crisis when they become mainstream, or popular? Is the popular necessarily mainstream? Can popular culture resist the mainstream and its hegemonic cultural products? And how do we think through hegemonic distinctions between "underground" and "popular"? That is, dothese categories imply social exclusion and marginalization? While it would be useful to think of cultural movements that upset the binary (e.g., rai in Algeria and Morocco, or hip hop in the U.S.), our purpose should not be to simply catalogue instances of this, but to place a renewed focus on the idea of the "subcultural," and to illuminate patterns in the organization of cultural production using this conceptual framework.

Please see the discussion reading list below:

Adorno, Theodor
1976. Popular Music. In Introduction to the Sociology of Music. Pp. 21-38. New York: Seabury.

Fikentscher, Kai
2000. "You Better Work!": Underground Dance Music in New York City. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.

Hall, Stuart
1981. Notes on Deconstructing 'the Popular.' In People's History and Socialist Theory. Raphael Samuel, ed. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.

Joseph, Gilbert M. and Daniel Nugent
1994. Popular Culture and State Formation in Revolutionary Mexico. In Everyday Forms of State Formation: Revolution and the Negotiation of Rule in Modern Mexico. Gilbert M. Joseph and Daniel Nugent, eds. Pp. 3-23. Durham, NC: Duke University Press.

Marshall, Wayne
2010. Post Postopolis Unpacking, Part 1: Hip Hop en DF.

Marshall, Wayne
2010. Post Postopolis Unpacking, Part 2: Graffiti en DF.

Mitchell, Tony
2001. Global Noise: Rap and Hip Hop Outside the USA. Middletown, CT: Wesleyan University Press.

Rose, Tricia
1994. Black Noise: Rap Music and Black Culture in Contemporary America. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.

Solomon, Thomas
2005. " 'Living Underground is Tough': Authenticity and Locality in the Hip Hop Community in Istanbul, Turkey." Popular Music 24(1):1-20.

Swedenburg, Ted
2000. Sa'ida Sultan/Danna International: Transgender Pop and the Polysemiotics of Sex, Nation, and Ethnicity on the Israeli-Egyptian Border. In Mass Mediations: New Approaches to Popular Culture in the Middle East and Beyond. Walter Armbrust, ed. Berkeley: University of California Press.

Thornton, Sarah
1996. Club Cultures: Music, Media, and Subcultural Capital. Hanover, NH: Wesleyan University Press.

To participate in CSEC discussions, please see our Participation Guidelines, and send a statement of interest to chreculture [at] gmail [dot] com.

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