Research project update.

One of the issues around maintaining a blog is time spent writing for it when perhaps I should be spending that time writing for my PhD. Anyway I am going to post a brief update here as a break from some philosophical reading I am conducting on Paul Ricoeur (Time and Narrative) and Michel Foucault (The Archaeology of Knowledge) both recommended by my new, yes new, supervisor Nick Gebhardt. Nick Has recently joined the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research from previously being at Lancaster University. He has a wealth of knowledge and some really erudite advice and I am really pleased to have him as a supervisor./ My other primary supervisor Prof Tim Wall has other commitments as the new Faculty Dean of Research however he has kindly committed to continue to support me as a third supervisor. So new supervisor and new progress-I recently presented my work so far to a panel for the transfer from MPhil stage to PhD stage. It was a 35K word lit review and a couple of case studies-fortunately it was approved so I have now achieved the status of being a master in my field of research. The next step was to present my new research proposal to another panel to see if my new line of investigation was worthy of conducting and worthy of approval. I am continuing with my investigation of anarcho-punk but my particular interest now is in the memories of the scene participants/ audience/ fans that were not necessarily band members though they are not ruled out of this project.

The projects aims are multi layered:
• Firstly the research focuses on the memories of the projects participants involvement with/in British anarcho-punk, musically, aesthetically, politically and ideologically
• Secondly how that involvement has influenced and/or impacted on their subsequent life courses, life choices and decisions, past and present, and shaped their lives (or similarly perhaps not).

I have decided to conduct a set of interviews this coming year with 5-6 participants that I am currently in the process of identifying and contacting. So far I have placed a couple of requests on punk forums and the response has been very encouraging with quite a few people expressing a strong interest in participating. Interestingly enough only one female response-which I am grateful for as I think the lifecourse trajectory of female participants may vary from those of male participants-I will no doubt find out. I am working my way through the methodological and ethical approaches to this form of data gathering and how my line of questioning will develop. One of the particular issues I will face is around people’s memories which includes memory recall, accuracy, memory narratives (hence Ricoeur and Foucault). Memory (and forgetting) is often problematic when trying to piece together historical analysis. I will be discussing this in more detail over the coming months hopefully in a set of blog posts here.

No Sir I Wont: Reconsidering The Legacy of Crass and Anarcho-punk. Punk Scholars Network Symposium.

A couple of weeks ago I attended the third Punk Scholars Network event organised and hosted by Pete Dale and the Oxford Brookes University Popular Music Research Unit. The title of the symposium was “No Sir, I Won’t”: Reconsidering The Legacy of Crass and Anarcho-Punk. The day started off with a pleasant taxi ride from the station with Pete, Penny Rimbaud, drummer and one of the founder members of Crass, and Sarah McHendry, musician and activist, member of Mwstard and former drummer of Curse of Eve, Baba Yaga and Witchknot. On arrival me, Penny and Sarah went off for a coffee at which point I started testing the ground with Penny about the paper I was to deliver that day on Crass and the documentary “There Is No Authority But Yourself” directed by controversial Dutch filmmaker Alexander Oey. My reason for broaching the paper with Penny, in advance of my presentation was because I felt quite nervous discussing somebody in the first person whilst they were there in the conference audience. It seemed from our discussions that my interpretation of the documentary was along the same lines as what Penny and Alexander were trying to convey through the documentary. Whilst this was reassuring I was yet to see how the audience would respond to my reading and the line of questioning I might get from Penny et al after I had presented.


Before the papers were delivered there was an excellent exhibition of anarcho-punk graphics from Russ Bestley of the University of The Arts London who pulled together some great examples and created a set of really powerful photomontage posters. To accompany the exhibition he also designed and printed a beautifully crafted limited edition ‘zine’ that was full of some great anarcho-punk graphics and an interesting historical perspective of the anarcho-punk movement/ scene in the UK in the late 1970’s to the mid 1980’s. You can see his excellent work here:PSN Oxford Booklet Layout PDF LR and here and throughout this blog post:

01 Crass Poster LR-page-0 copy copy


The first presenter of the day was Rich Cross whose paper was focused around discussions on the anarcho-punk/ peace punks’ relationship with the 60’s hippy counter culture and the development of political violence in the anarcho-punk movement. In his discussions he proposed that the singular fixed view of pacifism being integral to the early anarcho-punk movement misrepresented a more complex and contradictory reality, within the movement, where adherence to pure pacifism had become a contested principle. He drew on examples of the movements involvement with varying political groups including anti- fascist, animal liberation, anti- capitalist, Class War, Stop The City etc  and how that involvement challenged the original pacifism of anarcho-punk and saw some anarcho-punk militants adopt newly confrontational approaches.

02 Crass Poster LR-page-0 copy

Second up was a stimulating paper from Jim Donaghey who discussed anarchism as a politics of punk and punk as a culture of resistance. He proposed that there is a supposed gulf between ‘lifestyle’ and ‘ social’ anarchism where anarcho syndicalist’s ‘workerist’ interpretations of anarchism are somewhat in conflict with the social/ cultural interpretations of punk. In his paper he mapped out the anarcho-syndicalist principles of Rudolf Rocker onto DIY punk where it could be argued that the ‘workerist’ means of production are in the hands of the producers within DIY punk. In doing so he argued that a major foundation for successful struggle is a culture of resistance in which DIY punk contributes to in the contemporary anarchist milieu, as DIY punk bridges both political/personal and cultural/material.

03 Crass Label Poster LR-page-0 copy

After lunch it was my contribution where I discussed how music documentaries are used as a way of presenting and documenting popular music history, specifically punk for the screen. I argued that particular stylistic devices and tropes used in popular music documentaries engage in canonical processes that contribute to the formation of a punk canon. Alexander Oey’s documentary about Crass “There Is No Authority But Yourself” steers away from these stylistic devices and rather than presenting a ‘history’ of Crass presents us with a different insight.  In documenting Crass, Oey becomes more interested in the contemporary lives of some of the band members and  how the ideologies of the band are still, for some, core to their  lives and lifestyle. This raises the issue about an investigation and documenting of Crass being a vehicle for a broad range of ideologies that members of the band had before the band formed, and continue to live by today, rather than an intention to document history per se. The full paper is available here:

04 Anarcho Poster LR-page-0 copy copy


After me was Ana Raposo, who also presented an interesting paper on how  politics are represented in anarcho-punk music graphics. The core of her paper investigated how content and stylistic devices of music packaging are utilised as a propaganda tool and used for specific purposes such as loyalty or allegiance to  a scene,  strengthening an existing scene or recruiting people into the scene. In doing so they also present a critique of contemporary realities or utopian environments. she drew on some interesting graphical examples to demonstrate these processes at work. In some respects it was a way of also articulating or putting an additional  voice to  some of the graphical content of Russ Bestley’s exhibition.

05 Anarcho Poster LR-page0001 (2) copy

Last presentation of the day was from Pete Dale. He drew on the work of Ian Glasper’s series of books on underground UK punk, which  provides  an oral ‘history’ and a useful document of the politics of punk music and culture. In this insightful and at times amusing presentation Pete explored the notion of punk being about ‘more than music’ and pieces together some of the verbatim quotes of  informants and contributors to Glasper’s books to paint a picture of the  relationship between punk’s music and political affiliations and the way they changed over time. In doing so Pete pieced the quotations together to show how  a clearer understanding of where punk amounted to ‘more than music’ and where it also failed to amount to such.

06 Anarcho Poster LR copy

To end off a really stimulating day there was a round table discussion with Penny Rimbaud, George McKay and Sarah McHendry. (photo courtesy of Rich Cross ). I wont go into detail of the discussions as you can listen to them here (they were recorded on a mobile phone-not brilliant quality but the conversations are audible):

George McKay
Sarah McHendry
Penny Rimbaud

Here is also a link to Rich Cross’ presentation slides from the conference and will also take you to his excellent blog.

Here is also a link to some photos from the conference courtesy of Sean Clark and his blog post about the event


Punk Scholars Network (PSN) Reading April 19th 2013. Punk In Other Places: Transmission and Transmutation


I recently attended the second Punk Scholars Network (PSN) event hosted by Dr Matt Worley and the School of Humanities at Reading University. The PSN, of which I am a member, has been in existence for approximately 8 months and is a collection of academics, and some non-academics, that have an interest in researching and investigating punk and its many musical, cultural, social and political facets across many disciplines of study and research. This event was titled Punk In Other Places: Transmission and Transmutation and entailed a collection of presentations considering punk, its global ‘reach’ and localities.

The first presentation was from Hilary Pilkington (University of Manchester) who discussed an ethnographic study of a punk scene in a post-industrial post USSR town (of which the name eludes me) in Russia’s arctic hinterland. Described by the local punks as a ‘rotting city’ Hilary’s study followed a group of local punks and examined in what ways the group defined themselves as ‘punk’ and how that particular subcultural group negotiated their place within the city and alongside other subcultural groups. The particular town was in both industrial and social decline and many young people would leave and move to larger metropolis, whereas some, including this particular group of punks, decided for one reason or another to stay.  One of the interesting things to come out of the study was how the many subcultural groups in the town would share places, spaces and resources within the city to maintain their scene. Despite the groups were fundamentally different in their music and style they appreciated that due to a lack of investment and resources they were having to renegotiate their subcultural boundaries in order for each of those scenes to survive.


The second presentation was from Jim Donaghey, a PhD candidate from Loughborough University who is researching his PhD around notions of anarchism within punk scenes in UK, Poland and Indonesia. In this particular presentation he discussed some of his findings from a recent visit to Indonesia where he was conducting an ethnographic study of Indonesian street punx (sic). His study highlighted how 2 particular groups of street punks expressed their punk aesthetic, anarchistic beliefs and politics in a country with a regime that was both extremely politically and religiously (Islam) repressive. Marginalisation, discrimination and physical intimidation were regular themes that came out in his work, but despite this there is a sense of positivity and deep comradeship within the punk scenes he is investigating. Those scenes are deeply immersed and entrenched in the DIY principles of punk as access to media and resources to support them are barely available and would also bring them to the attention of the authorities that regularly clamped down on any youth cultures that fell outside of the ‘norm’ in both the eyes of the authorities and the local religious leaders. You may have read last year in the Guardian newspaper about groups of street punx in Indonesia being rounded up by the religious authorities and sent off to ‘ youth boot camps’ where they were ‘de-punked’ (heads shaved, piercings removed etc.) and ‘re-programmed’ (religiously and socially) before being returned to society as a ‘normal model citizen’. Quite repressive and disturbing.


Following on from Jim was a presentation by Melanie Schroeter of Reading University who discussed the issue of racist and xenophobic lyrics in German punk song lyrics of the nineties. Applying discourse analysis to the lyrics she highlighted the relationship between German punks and the asylum debate following on from the fall of the Berlin Wall and series of racially motivated attacks on hostels housing immigrants.


After an agreeable lunch Russell Bestley, from the London College of Communication, gave a fascinating presentation on the visual imagery of punk (predominantly record sleeves) and its relationship to regional locations. Decentralizing London as the home of punk he demonstrated how punk bands from regions around the UK would use local landmarks, such as street signs and known buildings, as backdrops for the covers of the records released by those bands to firmly locate them in their region. He argued that this was partly done to show that London didn’t ‘own’ punk and that punk and its scenes were existing and flourishing in other parts of the country, despite media rhetoric about it being a London phenomenon. It was great seeing some of the old record sleeves including the Vaultage series from Attrix Records, that had all the Brighton/Sussex punk bands showcased- I was part of the punk scene that developed around The Vaults ‘venue’ which was a crypt below an old church in the centre of town


downloaddownload (1)
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Following on from Russ was an interesting talk From Pete Dale who started his discussion around Scottish post-punk by delivering a searing critique of Simon Reynolds and his work on post punk and how Reynolds attempt to locate his work in academic theory and theoretical grounding failed-I can’t quite remember the full content of what Pete said but I remember it being controversial and received some nods from the audience. Note to self: remember to take a digital audio recorder to future events.

Last up was Paul Harvey who discussed his journey from playing with Penetration (a great Scottish punk band who I was/is still a fan of) to academia. His story was one of reticent acceptance into the academy but came about from his excellent PhD that linked Stuckist art to punk through questioning the whole concept of authenticity,what makes punk ‘punk’ and punks relationship to Dadaism and the Situationist movement. I thought his deconstruction of notions of authenticity in punk through the questioning of memory and what he referred to as ‘fabricated cliches’ was insightful.

All in all a great afternoon where I met some really interesting scholars and am really looking forward to the next one.

Forthcoming presentation on Anarcho-punk at Oxford Brookes University

Here is the poster for a forthcoming symposium reconsidering the legacy of Crass and Anarcho-punk.










I will be delivering a presentation on the Alexander Oey documentary ‘about Crass called ‘There is No Authority but Yourself’. There will also be a round table discussion at the end of the symposium with Penny Rimbaud one of the founder members of Crass. Interestingly enough at a recent talk he gave at a film festival in Southend -On-Sea he said that he wasn’t too enamored by being asked to attend academic conferences- see his comments amongst other interesting insights here on Richard Cross’s fantastic blog. All the same Penny  apparently is still coming which is great news.


Here is the abstract outlining what I will be discussing

Call it Crass but ‘There Is No Authority But Yourself’: De-canonizing Punk’s Underbelly.

Matt Grimes

       “But if punk stops in 1979, then it can be argued that that there is a great deal of the story left out. This includes punk offshoots such as…. the anarcho-punk movement, with bands such as Crass who took the anarchist message seriously…”[1]

Roger Sabin’s analysis of the histories of punk is very telling. It is in this context, of how histories of popular music are constructed, documented and presented, that this paper examines the documentary There Is No Authority But Yourself (2006) directed by Dutch director Alexander Oey concerning the anarcho-punk band Crass[2]. This documentary is important in providing an analysis of a band which has been mostly excluded from a standard story of popular music, and even from more focused examination of punk as a broader musical genre. Discussing the documentary, therefore, allows us to engage with a neglected part of music history.

In this essay I link the issue of documentary style to questions about documentary as historiography. By this I mean how documentaries are used as a way of presenting and documenting history– specifically how we find out about and present the history of popular music, with a focus on punk rock, for the screen. I intend to use Oey’s film to go beyond the classification of televisual representations of popular music as “rockumentaries[3]. To do this I distinguish between what I am describing here as ‘standard music histories’ exemplified by the BBC’s Britannia[4] series, the avant-garde approaches taken by Don Letts and Julien Temple, and the approach typified by Oey. Generally, I want to suggest that the first two approaches, for all their differences tend to represent popular music histories, through the utilisation of what can be seen as the canonical processes that contribute to the formation of a ‘punk’ canon.  In doing so I suggest we need to reconsider the role of canons in the construction of popular music histories.


[1] Roger Sabin, ed., Punk Rock: So What? (London: Routledge, 1999), 4.

[2] Crass were an avant-garde English punk rock band formed in 1977 around a collective of musicians based around Dial House, an open house community in Essex. The band was formed as a direct response to what they saw as the failings of the then popular punk movement to live up to the DIY (do it yourself) and anarchist ethos often espoused by artists such as The Sex Pistols, The Clash et al. Crass were seminal in the development of anarcho-punk, a specific subcultural strand of punk rock that promoted anarchism and pacifism as a political ideology and a way of living. Members of the band continue to perform under various collaborations and individual performances.

[3] a term first used by Bill Drake and Gene Chenault producers of the 1969 93 KHJ Los Angeles syndicated radio documentary The History of Rock & Roll

[4] The Britannia label consists of a series of documentaries and one-off programmes produced by the British Broadcasting Corporation about the history of popular music and their related cultural activities in the UK


Radio as a tool for social and cultural inclusion

Last year I was pleased to see the publication of Matt Mollgaard’s edited collection“Radio and Society: New Thinking for an Old Medium”[i] This book successfully draws together a collection of contemporary research by radio scholars from across the globe that explores this established medium in all its complexities. The collection draws on historical and critical debates around its development, its production and consumption, and the role of business, communities and government in the shaping of the medium. Another reason for my pleasure in seeing this book published is that I co-authored a chapter for the book with a colleague of mine Siobhan Stevenson, another researcher from The Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research. Our contribution considers the role of radio as a tool for rehabilitation and social inclusion. In one instance Siobhan looks at the role of radio in the British penal system and how it is used as one of many ‘tools’ to aid in the rehabilitation of prisoners. In the second half of the chapter I discuss the role of radio production as an accessible ‘tool’ for enabling social inclusion for two groups of people that could be perceived as socially excluded or marginalised. The chapter was based on a reflective account of two community based radio projects I developed and delivered in 2006 and 2007 supported by research by academics and practitioners to support some of the issues raised by these projects.

Ofcoms audit on media literacy in 2003[ii] highlighted that access to specific communicative resources is closely linked to the development of media literacy and its effectiveness in allowing participation in society. The principle behind the projects was to use cheap and accessible digital recorders and editing software to develop media literacy and give these particular groups a ‘voice’ and allow them to engage with the forms of media that were otherwise inaccessible  due to the nature of their political, cultural, social and  geographical situation. The projects aim was to train a small group of people within the specific community to use the digital equipment and for them to then go on and disseminate those skills within their community. This principle draws on Günnel’s discussions on the ‘dual-role’ approach[iii] , a type of active and reflective ‘training the trainer’ cascading pedagogy.

The first group I worked with were a group of young Gypsy adults (19-22) who wanted not to only be able to engage with contemporary digital technologies but use them as a way of documenting their culture and to address many of the media and cultural mis-representations of the Gypsy and Traveller communities. Due to the very nature of a mistrusting and relatively closed cultural group the project brought many challenges in the early stages in being able to establish and build trusting relationships to enable access to the community. Once this was achieved the participants were very able and willing in learning to use the equipment and produce some really good audio material that was shared amongst the Gypsy community and ‘mainstream’ society. This ability to tell their ‘own stories’ helped empower this group of young adults to consider their community within the wider context of society and how they could use these technologies to help readdress media representations of their culture.

The second group I worked with were a group of teenagers (15-18) that lived in rural Herefordshire and felt socially excluded due to their geographical location and lack of access to transport and leisure facilities. Using the same training approach, as with the Gypsy community, this group of young people explored their ideas and feelings of what it was like to be a teenager growing up in an isolated and rural location. The material they produced, short audio diaries and documentaries, were uploaded onto a specific website so they could hear the work of others in their locality-this in turn created an online community where they could communicate with each other via a forum. Encouraging and empathic comments from other young people who also lived in other rural and isolated areas who had come across the website started to extend this online community. This in turn reduced some of those feelings of isolation for the participants and forum members.

Some of the interesting issue that came out of these projects are talked about in more detail in the book. However in conclusion it was demonstrated that not only can simple radio production skills support communities and culturally empower them, as was the case with the young Gypsy adults, but in the case of the young rural people it contributed towards constructing and sustaining a new (online) community beyond the initial and original group of participants.


[i] Mollgaard, M (2012) “Radio and Society: New Thinking for an Old Medium” Newcastle Upon Tyne, Cambridge Scholars Publishing.


[iii] Günnel, T. (2006). Action-oriented Media pedagogy: theory and practice. In P. Lewis, & S. Jones (Eds.), From the Margins to the Cutting Edge: Community Media and Empowerment (pp. 41-65). Creskill, NJ: Hampton Press.

Günnel, T. (2008). The ‘Dual Role’ approach: encouraging access to community radio.The Radio Journal-International Studies in Broadcast and Audio Media , 6(2 & 3), 87-94, doi: 10.1386/rajo.6.2&3.87/4

From Protest to Resistance: British anarcho-punk fanzines (1980-1984) as sites of resistance and symbols of defiance

Following on from my previous blog post about writing chapters for future books on punk  I have decided to share with you the abstract for my next solo submission for a forthcoming book specifically on anarcho-punk. The book is titled The Aesthetic of Our Anger:Anarcho-Punk, Politics and Music, 1979-84 and is edited by Mike Dines and Matt Worley. This looks to be a seminal publication as it will be the first of its kind in academia to focus purely on anarcho-punk. I am really excited about this as I will be publishing alongside some academic luminaries in the field of punk studies.

From Protest to Resistance: British anarcho-punk fanzines (1980-1984) as sites of resistance and symbols of defiance

This chapter focuses on the role that alternative publications played in the cultural, political and ideological practices of the British anarcho-punk movement between 1980 and 1984. I explore the way these fanzines disseminated the central ideas of Anarcho-punk, the way that the editorials, reviews and articles mediated a shifting notion of ‘punk’, and how these ‘amateur’ publications fitted into the paradoxical construction of the early 1980s alternative rock scene.

As punk emerged in the 1970’s fanzines soon became one of the central methods of communicating the developing ideologies, practices and values within this new musical and subcultural movement as they have historically been regarded as an alternative to mainstream publishing and being independently representative of the ‘underground’. I will show how the Anarcho-punk editors of these fanzine worked with an ideological sense that early punk was an attempt to challenge and exist outside of the ‘mainstream ‘ of popular music and culture, but that punk’s style, fashion and music soon became co-opted, commodified and absorbed into popular culture. Early protagonists of anarcho-punk, such as Crass, sought to reinforce the personal politic of being responsible for one’s own authority and actions, and the political agenda of anarcho-punk came to embrace notions of anarchism, peace, libertarianism, animal rights, feminism, anti-capitalism and anti-globalization. The analysis explores how these discourses of political position were mediated and the sense of an Anarcho -punk movement that they constructed.

The chapter focuses on the visual and textual discourses of a selection of British anarcho-punk ‘zines’ and examines how discourses of authenticity, community and identity were embodied and reinforced by and for their producers and consumers. I first explore the role of anarcho-punk fanzines as a link between members of the scene, and second how its editorial content and design fostered a subcultural movement that self-consciously sought to resist what they saw as the commodified fate of the earlier punk movement. In doing so I examine how DIY fan production practices, through the articulation of specific and at times oppositional ideological positions, contributed to the construction of the musical, cultural and political boundaries of the anarcho-punk movement.


Subcultures, Popular Music and Social Change-A cross disciplinary symposium

Thursday 15th/Friday 16th September I attended a conference about subcultures and subcultural studies at London Metropolitan University. I was presenting on a panel chaired by Pete Webb from Goldsmiths college, I am a big fan of his academic work especially around Bristol music making/Massive Attack/Smith and Mighty et al and Nick Cave. I still use his work on Bristol music milieu as one of my core texts in my Popular Music Culture module when discussing ideas about how global music influences local music making practices and then is uniquely developed and re-positioned back into the global music milieu. Great to have finally met him and looking forward to some future meetings and discussions with him. Anyway I digress. On the panel were 2 of my colleagues from the BCMCR Andrew Dubber who did a presentation on his ‘Monkey On The Roof’ project and Jez Collins who talked about Hip Hop as a force for social change in Colombia’s favellas, particularly in Medellin.

Keynote speakers were Dick Hebdige-writer of seminal book ‘Subculture:The Meaning of Style’ who did an interesting talk on punk rock, his time running a clubnight called Shoop in Birmingham in the late 70’s early 80’s, Japanese a popular art/manga and living out in the Mojave Desert.

Day 2 saw an excellent and at times moving keynote speech from David Hesmondhalgh about how music makes our lives better, improves our well being and that there is not enough love in the world. Clearly demonstrated by his use of Candi Staton’s ‘Young Hearts Run Free’ always a winner in my book.

It was an excellent conference and very diverse covering many areas of subcultural studies with presenters from research  areas such as criminology, philosophy, theology and more. Highlights for me included:

  • ·         The keynote speeches
  • ·         Paul Hodkinson presentation on ageing goth’s and goth  subculture
  • ·         Michelle Liptrot  from Bolton Uni on DIY punk as Resistance
  • ·         Dr Herbert Pimlott with a really interesting talk on music ephemera , cultural memeory and work around Raymond Williams and ‘structure of feeling’. Very useful for my work around histories/the canon and popular memory.
  • ·         Alex Ogg-DIY and Independence. Development of Independent record labels in the post-punk era. Wanted to have a chat with him but unfortunately had to run for the train.
  • ·         Jonathan Llan from the University of Kent-the criminality and commercialization of UK Grime music.
  • Melanie Schroeter. University of Reading. Discourse analysis of the lyrics of punk band Golden Lemon
  • ·         Andrew Bengry-Howell from University of Bath. Interesting presentation on Criminal Justice Act and the free festival/free party scene


I presented a paper on anarcho-punk fanzines which was a further development of the research I had done with Rob Horrocks that we presented at Oxford Brookes earlier in the year.  I have included the paper here on the blog without the powerpoint as the powerpoint kept freezing the blog page. It is available on request however.


Download this file


Also my colleague Andrew Dubber has blogged his thoughts on the conference, with accompanying photos/ videos etc- you can get it here:


UB40 Symposium

A colleague of mine Dr Paul Long, from the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research, is organising a symposium on and around the Birmingham band UB40 in association with Birmingham Popular Music Archive. This is in recognition of the 30th anniversary of the release of UB40’s album “Signing Off”
Although UB40 were not a punk band it would be fair to say that they came from the same era of Thatcherism, high unemployment and social division. Their lyrics at times reflected the same anger and frustration of those of the British punk scene so they deserve a mention here.
The symposium will take place on March 18th 2011 at Birmingham School of Media at Birmingham City University.
For further details follow this link:

Sights and Sounds: Interrogating the Music Documentary Conference

Tim, Paul, Oliver, Sam, Rob and I went to the Sights and Sounds Conference which was held at Salford University last Thursday and Friday. I presented a paper based around my research into Anarcho-punk. I talked about the Alexander Oey film about Crass‘There is No Authority But Yourself’. The paper was around how the film could be seen as an intervention into the canons of punk history through the retrieval of memory. The Powerpoint slides can be viewed below though the embedded video may not play. The conference was also filmed so hopefully I will be able to post that up at a later date.


I felt , for my first academic presentation, that it went really well though i did get a bit tongue tied at one point but managed to retrieve my place in the delivery and continued. The feedback I received afterwards from the audience was really positive and encouraging. I was 1 of 3 on a punk/post punk panel, the other 2 contributors on the panel, Ailsa Grant-Turton and Erich Hertz also delivered 2 really good papers that complimented some of the issues I was addressing in my paper. I am hoping that I will find the time to finish writing the paper over the next few months and that it can be included in a forthcoming text on music documentary published on the back of this conference. The other delegates covered a broad range of subject/musical genres of which there was something interesting in all of them. Tim and Paul did an excellent presentation about Tony Palmers 1976 series ‘All you need is Love’ examining the impact of the series as a seminal documentary that established the form that most subsequent popular music documentaries have since taken. Sam and Oli also did a co-presentation examining how Sam’s audio documentary about David Bowie’s visit to New Zealand has been appropriated by fan cultures and re-versioned. The other delegates were very friendly and i made some useful contacts. I met with Mark Duffett a scholar who teaches at Chester University who’s website and blog I have been following with interest. He has done some great work on fan cultures and I am going to meet up with him later in the year to discuss my research and see how he can give me some solid insight into fan culture and cultural memory. Due to the conference programme we didn’t have much time to have an indepth conversation but I am excited at the prospect of spending more time with him to pick his brain and tease out some useful knowledge to aid my research.


What was really great about this conference was the opportunity to spend time with my work colleagues and I felt really proud to be part of a team that represented the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research at the Birmingham School of Media in such a good light. We had the largest group from any institution present at the conference and arrived in a ‘Reservoir Dogs’ style.


Ben Halligan who helped organise the conference has asked my to present a paper at another conference he is organising in July titled ‘Noise, Affect, Politics’
-so I thought if I have time I would like to put a paper together about the political lyrics of bands such as Crass, Discharge, Extreme Noise Terror and Napalm Death and how they are mostly undecipherable in their lyrical delivery but central to their ethos and agenda.

Punk’s Underbelly.ppt
Download this file

Here are my conference presentation notes

Download this file