This article explores the relation between popular music and creative cities through the example of Manchester between 1976 and 1997. The formation of a local music scene is analysed through the notion of urban creative milieu stating its historical debt to the city industrial heritage; place-images produced by the local popular music scene are analysed as visual, aural and lyrical productions. The article examines the consolidation of the considered local popular music scene through bottom-up and autonomous projects and the regeneration of some areas of Manchester. It looks at the role of the 'New Left' municipality, its difficulties in recognizing the city's creative capital and its attitude towards the production and consumption of popular music. The conclusions present some general reflections on the Manchester legacy and its significance for a definition of creativity at the urban level.
This article analyses German press coverage of the 1998 football World Cup as a site for discursive constructions of German national identity. It proposes that references to National Socialism and right-wing thought in 1998 were made through reports which presented Germany today as the antithesis of the country pre-1945. Considering discourses on German hooligans and the theme of nationalism, it is argued that liberalism and democracy have represented political cornerstones of German national identity. This image is shown to be challenged, however, by discourses which seek to legitimize nationalism and propose the concept of a national identity based on political integration to be impracticable or even wrong.
This article explores the contemporary conditions of national self-presentation, inviting students of national identity to reconsider the nature of national self-narration through new conceptual tools. It is argued that contemporary nations have two `voices': one is addressed to their members, another speaks to the nation's external interlocutors. Both voices contribute to the performance of identity: for nations which are the product of colonial and `crypto-colonial' encounters, narration is characterized by a negotiation of the boundaries between private and public voices and slippage in utterance. The article introduces a new concept in the study of culture, `diforia', which accounts for both this split meaning of utterance and national performativity in public. The concept is mobilized to examine and deconstruct a recent case of Greek diforia enacted in the context of the opening and closing ceremonies of Athens 2004.
The 60th anniversary celebration of the end of the Second World War became an important political, social and media event. Memory rituals, speeches and official announcements, celebrations, movies and reports created an ensemble of social activities that re-dramatized the historic event. In these kinds of memorial rituals the re-dramatization of history becomes part of collective memory, in which a shared image of historic incidents is created. Media and especially television play an important role in this making of history. Today, television is one of the most important agents for communicating historical events. At the same time the tendency of historical television documentary is to adopt increasingly popular forms and elements of feature films. This has led to a popular form of historical event television. One of its main genres is the docudrama. The article reviews contemporary docudramas about Nazism and Second World War on German television.
This article examines the discourses of forced prostitution that circulated in the US and European media and government publications in the context of the soccer World Cup in 2006. This analysis of the public discourse around prostitution reveals two themes: concerns about immigration and border security, and representations of gender binaries that serve to relegate migrant women to the status of victim. The fears of increased sex trafficking and the condemnation of so-called ‘sex shacks’ and ‘mega-brothels’ for the World Cup 2006 served as foils for other perceived crises produced by globalisation. The debates struggle with a marked ‘other’ that reveals new forms of racialised ‘othering’: dangerously white, understood as both of Europe and a threat to it. The 2006 World Cup historical moment has implications for how international sports, consumer culture and feminist activism inform and conceal human agency.
Each year the European Union designates one or more cities with the competed-for city brand of European Capital of Culture (ECOC). In several recent ECOCs, such as in Turku, Finland, the management and organisation of the events have caused tension among the citizens regarding decision-making, financing and power over use of the urban space. The focus of the article is on analysis of the discursive dynamics of local activists and their project ‘Turku – European Capital of Subculture 2011’. By emphasising the cultural analysis of activism, the article indicates how the counter-discourse of the activists was produced through cultural production. The project produced a strong movement culture with common practices, anti-neoliberal values and world views. Through cultural production and movement culture, the project participated in the creation of subculture as a fluid and flexible cultural category expressed through stylistic and lifestyle choices.
In the last few years the so-called ‘360 deal’, in which record labels receive a portion of income from revenue streams such as merchandising and publishing, have become increasingly common in the recording industry. However, the most publicised 360 deals have been made not by labels but by Live Nation, the world’s largest live music promoter, and some have argued that the emergence of the 360 deal reflects a shift in the balance of power within the music industry. This article provides an overview of 360 deals, discussing their emergence and overall structure as well as arguments for and against the 360 approach. It examines the broader implications of the 360 deal, concluding that the current situation of the major labels may not be quite as bad as is commonly perceived, and that the 360 approach may help them manage the challenges that they have faced in the last decade.
The image of the trafficked woman from a former state socialist country has come to symbolize the global crisis in sex trafficking. The ‘Natasha’ image is also a referent for the failure of state socialism. This article provides an analysis of the film Lilya 4-Ever (dir. Lukas Moodyson, 2002) to show how both sex trafficking and postsocialism are framed in representations of sex trafficking. The film presents the problem of sex trafficking in two covertly problematic ways, narrowing the issue to prostitution and illegal migration. While the film avoids voyeurism of sexual violence, this is replaced by voyeurism of postsocialist abjection. Postsocialist abjection is aesthetically captured as an eternal state of collapse. Thus, the tragedy of sex trafficking is the result of and a symbol for the failure (post-)state socialism.
This article examines the narrative and discursive strategies that have been mobilised over the past five years in the British community soap EastEnders to construct high-profile child (sex) abuse narratives. It focuses primarily on the long-running retrospective paternal rape and incest storyline that is reconfigured as a maternal melodrama to manage tensions over power, sexuality and the family. The mother–daughter dynamic as a privileged site of trauma and potential resistance to patriarchal control is analysed in both the EastEnders source text and Ronnie and Danielle fan fiction produced by and for female adolescents.
Matt Hills argues that cultural theorists have been unable or unwilling to transcend a dichotomy that places academic discourse and identities in the realm of the rational or passionless, and fan identities in the realm of the immersed or open. As a result, the scholar-fan and the fan-scholar have become liminal and transgressive persona. This article draws on the author’s own experience, and that of 13 other delegates who participated in the Slayage Conference on Buffy the Vampire Slayer held in Tennessee in May 2004, as a basis for exploring the way in which the issues of the fan-scholar identity are lived out. Questions addressed include the way in which tensions between fan and academic identities were manifested, and the ways in which individuals managed their fan and academic identities.
This article addresses the representational conventions and gendered forms of address in online pornography through analysis of 366 unsolicited email (spam) messages advertising porn websites. Combining content description with close reading, it considers the terminology, imagery, narrative elements and points of view employed in advertising commercial heterosexual pornography. The spam advertisements create excessive displays of gender difference. It seems that limited female agency is central, especially in messages advertising reality sites structured by gendered relations of control. Arguing that such displays of control should not be automatically translated as displays of power, this article investigates the representational logic of mainstream pornography as one based on binary differences, juxtapositions and easily recognizable types.
Although there has been growing academic interest in the tendency among transnational adoptive parents in the West to incorporate aspects of the child’s so-called ‘birth culture’ into their lives, much less attention is paid to the role that this culture work plays in families’ quest for full and good citizenship. By drawing on fieldwork among Flemish-Ethiopian adoptive families in a range of different settings, this article frames this practice as conscious and political citizenship work. Although the parenting work can open up possibilities to provide a more dynamic view on identity and citizenship, essentialist views on culture and the tendency to downplay racism and global inequalities create considerable constraints.
Although much work on the long-running Charmed series focuses on the popular appeal of the programme for the teen or 'tween' audience, this article examines the ways in which the show can be seen to appeal to the young adult audience. It argues that those themes, characters and intertextual reference points that appeal to the adolescent viewer also can be seen to speak to the twenty to thirtysomething generation who have turned their back on marriage, mortgages and secure employment in favour of a less rigid definition of adult maturity.
Despite recent burgeoning interest in the body as a culturally constructed project, little research attention is paid to bodily excretions (sweat, urine, faeces, menstrual blood, saliva, mucus, skin oil) and their social implications. The present study addresses this lacuna. Since advertising for hygiene products reflects prevailing ideas regarding the body and the regulation of its excretions, this research focused on two questions: what messages are conveyed by advertisements for products that regulate excretions, and how is shame constituted? The study analysed 159 adverts published in Israeli newspapers. The results indicate that shame or regulation of the body’s orifices and waste do not constitute a frame for promoting hygiene products: cleaning one’s body for hygienic purposes is covert, and adverts reflect a hedonistic cult of the self. This apotheosis of the body implies that pampering oneself requires constant investment, including the purchase of products that serve a hygienic purpose only incidentally.
This article analyses the representation and consumption of infant formula advertising on Chinese television, following the food scare of 2008 when milk supplies were contaminated with the poisonous chemical melamine. Drawing on the concepts of encoding/decoding and ‘circuit of culture’, the article investigates how the Chinese dairy industry encodes the messages of food safety and quality in their advertisements, and how parents decode these messages as part of their daily risk management strategies. Combining a critical analysis of advertising imagery with focus group and interview evidence regarding its consumption, the article suggests that the dairy industry juxtaposed images of science and nature to mediate messages about the quality and safety of infant formula. The study’s evidence confirms that Chinese consumers decode these messages based on their previous experience and knowledge, exhibiting considerable ambivalence about the advertising of infant formula and reflecting significant anxiety about the product’s quality and safety.
This article offers a critical textual analysis of hundreds of advertisements that appeared in Polish magazines at a pivotal historical juncture: following the collapse of communism and at the rise of a capitalist market economy in the early 1990s. It draws out from the visual and rhetorical data emblematic themes and sociocultural undercurrents concerning entrepreneurial opportunism and financial reassurance, status envy and post-rationing excess and interconnected solidarity with the West through brands and the English language itself. By studying the anxieties and aspirations represented in this symbolic material, we might better understand how new consumers were ideologically shepherded through a moment of profound political transition. The study represents a starting point for future investigation into how advertising produces its subjects in the aftermath of communism.
The first part of this article outlines a dilemma in cultural studies and sociology of culture regarding the politics of aesthetics. This concerns whether discourse about the evaluation of symbolic forms serves to reinforce power relations and maintain divisions between people and communities, or whether evaluation can serve as a basis for greater commonality. One way of at least beginning to address this issue is to attend to the 'everyday aesthetics' of media audiences, exemplified here in the ordinary evaluative discourse of music users. The second part of the article reports on interview research about musical tastes and values. It analyses these interviews for evidence of the ways in which evaluative statements might involve making connections with others, or alternatively how they may act as barriers to social connectivity or community. How and to what extent might ordinary musical evaluation be thought of as part of potential aesthetic public spheres?
Study of the politics of popular culture has tended to focus on the familiar territory of censorship, propaganda and protest. Without wishing to deny the importance of these aspects of popular culture's politics, this article argues for a broader perspective, one that encompasses policy and aesthetics. It suggests not only that the recent interest in both aesthetics and policy is important to the politics of culture, but that the two need to be linked: that political values and arrangements shape aesthetic judgements and that aesthetic values inform policy decisions. This argument is developed through an analysis of recent debates about aesthetic judgement, focusing in particular on the work of Simon Frith.
Focusing on examples from Guinea-Bissau, this article examines recent attention to birthplace as constitutive of national identity in West African postcolonial politics. The author explores the logic of native birth as a marker of authenticity and legitimacy, particularly in light of scholarship on modernity and postcolonialism. Several explanations from various disciplinary perspectives are offered to examine why the ideological trope of identity as birthplace has potential popular purchase.
Since its foundation in 1998 the ‘Red Hat Society’ (RHS) has become a popular international movement of women aged over 50 that is known for its distinct group performances. Red Hatters show up in public spaces wearing red hats, purple clothing and sometimes red gloves, and engage in various fun and frivolous activities. Previous studies about the RHS have found that its main appeal is that it creates an escape from women’s day-to-day life experiences. However, such outcomes ignore the fact that the RHS’s appeal is motivated also by the particular life histories of its members. To explore the relevance of these life histories, interviews were conducted with RHS members in The Netherlands. The findings show that to understand the cultural meaning of the RHS it is necessary to include a diachronic dimension in the research, articulating members’ current negotiations of femininity and ageing with those of their past.
‘Choice’, ‘freedom’ and ‘agency’ are terms liberally appropriated in recent years by popular women’s cultural genres to advance an image of the new, empowered woman confidently embracing patriarchal heterosexuality and commodity culture. Critics such as Rosalind Gill have linked this image to the influence of contemporary neoliberalism. This article extends these claims in order to argue that with the rise of this new female subject that reflects the workings of the neoliberal process of subjectification as immanent within and responsive to normative power, a more detailed examination is necessary of the changed meanings of choice and freedom. In the light of this changed form of governance and subjectification, feminist critique of popular women’s culture needs to readjust its terms of engagement.
This article argues that researchers involved in cultural heritage preservation need to adopt an inclusive ethnographic research methodology that pays attention to how power, class and status shape communities. Based on field research in Ghimeş-Fǎget, Romania, it discusses the factors that influenced residents’ choice of ethnic identity and focuses on why the Hungarian identity was chosen as the most visible public representation of the town, when residents could have chosen from a variety of other identities. Local efforts to preserve culture, history and self ‘in one direction’ were shaped by the current socio-economic reality in Ghimeş. The article suggests that identity is informed by shifting power relations between ethnic groups and not simply by the more powerful ethnic group in the community. Finally, the article discusses why one recently proposed ‘culturally responsive research methodology’ could not support any kind of legitimate preservation agenda in Ghimeş-Fǎget or any other community.
The article explores how the concept of authenticity is deployed in contemporary Switzerland to delimit not only the representational boundaries of the Muslim (foreign) ‘other’, but also of the dominant cultural self. The authors analyse the act of constituting the authentic other in relation to the stability, comfort and safeness of the dialogically constituted authentic self, as illustrated in a Swiss advertising campaign in summer 2009. To investigate how those power relations unfold in the Ali Kebab advertising campaign, the article draws on a framework of visual analysis that studies the field of significations carried by specific images in relation to the particular context in which they are deployed, then facilitates their recontextualisation within wider social discourses. This sheds light on how the categories of authenticity displayed by the Ali Kebab adverts draw on a deep and powerful colonial imaginary that goes well beyond the borders of Switzerland.
Recent studies of cultural intermediaries demonstrate that economic activity in even the most rationalized organizations and industries is thoroughly cultural. However, they may not do justice to contexts where production and mediation are embedded in communities with distinctive traditions and aesthetic standards. This article offers an ethnographically informed account of intermediaries working within one such context: namely, the organizations and stores composing the ‘nerd-culture scene’ in a Canadian city. Retailers and group organizers enable geeky cultural practices by providing spaces where individuals can develop their interests and hobbies. Their labour is analysed in terms of their subcultural careers, gatekeeping functions within the scene and dispositions towards the ‘mainstream’. They are not simply economic agents but also culturally and socially situated actors motivated to do this work for its intrinsic rewards. Subcultural scenes cut across industrial sectors and cultural industries, making them a special context for the work of cultural intermediaries.