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Title:Culture from the slums: punk rock, authenticity and alternative culture in East and West Germany
Author(s):Hayton, Jeff
Director of Research:Fritzsche, Peter A.
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Fritzsche, Peter A.
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Todorova, Maria N.; Koslofsky, Craig M.; Pence, Katherine
Department / Program:History
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
German History
Federal Republic of Germany
German Democratic Republic
Alternative Culture
Abstract:This comparative dissertation explores the new moral politics of authenticity emerging in the Western world in the post-1960s era. Examining the development of the popular music genre punk since the 1970s, this study helps to explain why Germany after decades of dictatorship became democratic and how rock’n’roll contributed to this transformation. Investigating how youths used music to build alternative communities and identities during the Cold War, this project details the often uncomprehending and repressive responses by East and West German authorities. In the East, the genre became a form of opposition to the dictatorial SED regime, while in the West, punk became a political and aesthetic platform for individual and social revolution along more ‘authentic’ lines—efforts sparking debates about the contentious Nazi past and the future contours of German identity, society and citizenship. Tracking West German youths travelling abroad to London to experience punk first-hand, and then returning home to rearticulate the genre into the local context of the Federal Republic, I follow the spread of popular culture across state boundaries and the consequences of such transmissions. East German authorities at first tried to repress the genre beaming into the GDR via Western radio before reversing course in the late 1980s in a desperate attempt to use popular music to cultivate a distinctive socialist national identity and shore up their waning political legitimacy. But by then it was too late: forced into the Evangelical Churches to escape persecution, punks became the foot-soldiers of the opposition and helped, in the end, to bring down the Berlin Wall. Detailing the consequences of the 1960s on democratic change in the Federal Republic and contributing to new literature stressing the space for alternative identities and practices in the East German dictatorship, fundamentally, this dissertation argues for the importance of punk and popular cultural in contributing to modern German democracy, national identity and pluralist society.
Issue Date:2013-08-22
Rights Information:Copyright 2013 Jeff Hayton
Date Available in IDEALS:2013-08-22
Date Deposited:2013-08

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