FIGHT BACK-Punk, Politics and Resistance

fight back


I have a co-authored chapter with fellow BCMCR/Interactive Cultures member Tim Wall, concerning punk fanzines,soon to be published in an edited collection of writings on punk rock and politics.

Here is the chapter abstract;

Matt Grimes & Tim Wall
Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research
Birmingham City University

Anarcho-punk webzines
Transferring symbols of defiance from the print to the digital age?
What role do specialised publications play in the consumer’s experience of sub-cultures, music and the shaping of its meanings? Drawing on ideas from authors such as Teal Triggs (1995 & 2006), Chris Atton (2001) Marion Leonard (2007), this chapter explores this role through the pages and practices of British anarcho-punk fanzines, in their print and online incarnations.

Fanzines have long been regarded as representing the underground, independent, or the alternative to mainstream publishing as the communities that develop around fanzines are both consumers and (at times) the producers. When punk emerged, fanzines soon became one of the main means of communicating the ethos and values of this new subcultural and its musical style, as their production and distribution practices already embodied some of the cultural practices developing within the DIY approach of punk. Our concern in this chapter is with the role of the fanzine as arbiter of taste, its ability to articulate a specific (often oppositional) ideological position, and its construction of discourses of authenticity. We will also examine the role of the fanzine as an element in the construction of musical scenes, and in the identity and sub-cultural capital of its producers and readership. Our analysis focuses primarily on the specificities of ‘British anarcho-punk’ fanzines of the 1980s where discourses of defiance and opposition are constructed, embodied and reinforced within the anarcho-punk sub-cultural movement.

While it may be assumed that the practices and associations of the printed fanzine have simply migrated online, we examine and evaluate the continuities and discontinuities between the print and online incarnations, and the role that they play in constructing the ideology and identities of anarcho-punks. Using search criteria to identify those online versions that identify themselves as digital online punk ‘zines’, I seek to determine whether the same or similar articulations of defiance, anarchism and anti-authoritarianism are apparent in the digital texts. This essay assesses the extent to which the same discourses and discursive practices are apparent in other online punk ‘zines’, such as e-zines and per-zines. In doing so examines how the inclusion of the term ‘zine’, within the meta data of their digital manifestations, is used in the wider commercial and cultural context.

Forthcoming presentation at the Punk Scholars Network 1st Annual Post Graduate Symposium

PSN Postgraduate Symposium Poster Final-page-001PSN Postgraduate Symposium Poster Final-page-002

As well as being a member of BCMCR/Interactive Cultures I am also a member of the Punk Scholars Network, which is, as it’s name suggests, an international network of scholars academic and non academic that research and write about punk rock in all its different manifestations. The PSN has organised its first  Annual Punk Scholars Network Post Graduate Symposium for the end of this month and is being hosted at The University of Leicester and I am going to be presenting some of my Phd research into anarcho-punk. Specifically it will be reflecting on my methodological approaches. Here is my abstract for my presentation;

“Where There’s a Will There’s a Way”: Methodology, investigating memory and the life-courses of 1980’s British anarcho-punks.

Matt Grimes

Birmingham City University


Taking its title from 1980’s British anarcho-punk band Discharge, this paper investigates some of the issues faced by researchers conducting qualitative research interviews focussed on memory and the politics of everyday life. I will draw on my on-going doctoral research into a group of participants of the 1980’s British anarcho-punk scene and what significance that their engagement with British anarcho-punk has had on their lives. My doctoral research aims to build upon work about fan identities and practices within life-course transitions and the negotiation of fandom and identity amongst older fans produced by Hodkinson 2013, Harrington et al 2011, Bennett and Taylor 2012, and especially Bennett 2006, Davis 2006 and 2012, which examined the wider punk rock scenes.


Drawing on the work of Harrington & Bielby (2010) and Vitale (2013) I aim to contextualise my study and discuss the application of the life-course framework to my research. Additionally the presentation will raise some of the issues involved in memory studies as highlighted by Wang & Brockmeier (2002), Van Dijck (2006) and Labelle (2006). Drawing on the work of Rubin & Rubin (1995), Wengraf (2001) and Kvale & Brinkman (2009) I discuss the processes of and issues involved in conducting qualitative in-depth research interviews, the ethical considerations involved in this approach and managing interview data.

What is equally exciting about presenting at this conference is that Sophie Sparham, a recent graduate from the Birmingham School of Media, where I teach, will also be presenting for the first time at an academic conference. Here is her abstract;

How Close Is Too Close?  The role of the punk rock ethnographer and their relationship with their research subjects.

Sophie Sparham
Birmingham City University

Drawing on my personal experiences of touring with anarcho-punk band Addictive Philosophy in 2013, this presentation firstly discusses the significance of gaining and presenting subcultural capital as a way of gaining a more in-depth insight of a specific music scene, and therefore seeks to uncover the sometimes blurred distinction between researcher and research participant. In doing so it raises issues around the ethical dilemma of involvement and participation for the ethnographer and their relationship with the research subjects in the documenting of reality.

Secondly I discuss the role of the radio documentary producer; from the interviewing and recording process to the editorial decisions that were subsequently made to enable the creation of the documentary.  This also raises issues of the documentary producer’s desire to present reality whilst contending with regulatory broadcasting restrictions.  I demonstrate how my initial intention of making a radio documentary of the tour soon expanded into a much larger documentation and critique of the current anarcho-punk scene in the UK and Ireland.  The finished documentary was shortlisted for ‘The Charles Parker Radio Awards 2014’.

I have really enjoyed teaching Sophie and similarly I am enjoying working alongside her in developing her presentation. I am hoping it will be a really valuable experience for her and may encourage her to return to academia and engage in some post-graduate research and study .