Welcome to The International Association for the Study of Popular Music UK and Ireland Branch

The Punk Scene in France (1976–2016): 40 Years of History

Posted: July 16th, 2016 | Filed under: Calls for Papers | No Comments »

International and interdisciplinary conference
Philharmonie de Paris, 25 and 26 November 2016

Organized by CESR (U. François Rabelais/CNRS/ MCC) and THALIM (CNRS/ENS/U. Paris 3). In association with the Punk Scholars Network.

During the summer of 1976, simultaneously in the United States, Australia, the United Kingdom and across many European countries including France, scores of musical groups were suddenly being referred to in the press or self-defining themselves as “punk”, a slang term meaning lout, a good-for-nothing, a worthless nobody. Defined by Hebdige as an “unnatural synthesis” and an “alliance of diverse and superficially incompatible musical traditions”, all of these groups had one thing in common: the desire to wipe the slate of rock history clean and to start from scratch, thanks to a form of music which laid stress on simplicity, on lyrics which derided social and political conventions, and on an energetic and confrontational attitude. In the stultifying France of president Valérie Giscard d’Estaing, where the ebbing shadow of Gaullism and of the May 1968 student protests lingered on, the punk explosion, signaled as early as summer 1976 by the Mont-de-Marsan festival, defied the pervasive gloom linked to the economic crisis and to rising unemployment, and voiced its refusal of boredom. The first stage of a movement which asserted lack of hope and of prospects – summed up by the motto “No Future” – came to a close in 1978 when across the Western world, many iconic groups brought about their own end and a large number of scenes disappeared, upstaged by emerging musical trends such as post-punk, new wave and disco. And yet punk was to be rejuvenated in France, as elsewhere, by the emergence of a novel wave of punk which was characterized by a harsher and less melodic sound and by more politically committed lyrics, the appearance of new musical categories (street punk, hardcore, oi, etc.) and new sartorial codes (studded leather, Mohican haircuts, etc.), reinventing what it means to sound punk and to be punk up until this very day. The study of this ever-unfolding and evolving history, with all of its paradoxes, strengths and weaknesses, is the task which lies at the heart of this conference.

The aim of the conference is thus to reconsider the relevance of the periodizations and turning-points which are taken to define and structure France”s forty-year-old punk scene, to transcend interpretations which view the punk phenomenon as an essentially Anglo-American cultural expression and to examine how the boundaries between a hegemonic culture and a relatively subversive culture are constructed and negotiated.

Proposals should be submitted no later than the 15th September 2016 and sent to the following addresses :  [email protected] and [email protected].

They should include a title, an abstract (15 lines max) and a short biography and bibliography (10 lines max).

The presentations will last 20 minutes and will be followed by a discussion.

Conference languages: French and English

Leave a Reply