‘No Borders’ Whilst Maintaining ‘Safe Spaces’: Boundary Management in Feminist and Queer DIY Punk

Friday, 20 July 2018: 10:45
Oral Presentation
Kirsty LOHMAN, University of Surrey, United Kingdom
This paper investigates relationships between identity, belonging and the creation of cultural community ‘safe’ spaces, through a case study analysis of contemporary queer/feminist do-it-yourself (DIY) punk scene(s) in the UK. These draw on the aesthetics of Riot Grrrl punk that emerged in the USA in the early 1990s, but this new generation are also influenced by contemporary queer, anarchist, feminist and trans politics.

The scenes operate in a way that enables performers, organisers, and its wider community to play with the borders of genre, particularly in terms of deconstructing spatial, cultural, and identity boundaries. Politically, this approach allows an ‘opening up’ of possibilities, countering the cultural hierarchies and oppressions extant in wider cultural and social life.

Simultaneously, however, the scenes rely on the creation of ‘safe spaces’ at events. These allow otherwise marginalised people to perform, to experiment, or simply to exist, at events without fear of attack. Such ‘safe spaces’ rely on the creation and policing of boundaries, of ensuring that attendees adhere to sets of guidelines around behaviour at events.

By analysing these two seemingly contradictory approaches to boundary-management, this paper will examine the complexity of scene participants’ political work in terms of identity, belonging, and community.

This paper brings together findings from two research projects, ‘Trans Music Communities’ (2012-3) and ‘Punk, Politics and Gender in the UK’ (2016-), while also reflecting analytically on the author’s own involvement with the scenes in question (2011-). Data includes interviews, participant observation, and content analysis of creative outputs by performers and scene organisers.