Date of Award

5-2017

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy

Major

Geography

Major Professor

Derek H. Alderman

Committee Members

Micheline Van Riemsdijk, Leslie C. Gay, Thomas Bell

Abstract

In the history of underground music in the punk era, few cities’ scenes have garnered as much respect and influence as Washington, DC. Bad Brains, Minor Threat, Scream, Rites of Spring, Fugazi, and a deep catalog of other regional groups have accrued legendary status among fans of hardcore and have become subjects of popular books and documentaries. However, few accounts have investigated DC’s underground influence on other urban landscapes outside of the United States. This dissertation focuses on that relationship between DC and another iconic Western capital with a largely unheralded hardcore punk history, Paris.

Using qualitative, ethnographic methods, this dissertation unpacks the dynamics and underlying geographic currents of this exchange. Based on primary sources like personal interviews and secondary sources like fanzines, correspondence, and recordings, the details of this unique slice of Franco-American cultural circulation are uncovered. Informants discuss their role within the circulation of music and ideas through alternative networks, and Parisians express impressions of Washington, DC as affected by that city’s subcultural diffusion. In the process, prevailing urban counter-narratives are unveiled and lessons discerned on the life cycle of profoundly changing urban landscapes.

This dissertation ultimately proposes a circulation model through which to understand the movement of music as well as that music’s omnipresent role in collective sense of place. By understanding how and why punk circulated between Washington DC and Paris, geographers and other social scientists can understand the greater circulation of culture, public memory of urban landscapes, and these cities’ respective roles in global change.

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