Electronic Thesis and Dissertation Repository

Degree

Doctor of Philosophy

Program

Media Studies

Supervisor(s)

Dr. Norma Coates

Abstract

Through a media historical analysis of Chicana/o and Latina/o participation in punk scenes in cities such as Los Angeles and Chicago, this dissertation decenters whiteness as the taken-for-granted subject position within punk and problematizes existing scholarship that assigns a unified and coherent political ideology to Latina/o punks. This work follows Fiona I.B. Ngò and Elizabeth A. Stinson’s imperative to excavate punk’s past and present in order to “rewrit[e] the idea of margin and center” within punk historiography and scholarship, and extends Mimi Thi Nguyen’s arguments against the periodization of women of color feminisms in punk as “timely but also temporary” interventions during moments of crises to include Chicana/o and Latina/o involvement in punk. By tracking the development and evolution of punk scenes in predominantly Latina/o and working-class areas of Los Angeles and Chicago over the span of approximately forty years, I insist upon the continuous co-presence of Latina/os (as well as other people of color) in punk, and the importance of critically engaging questions of race, class, nation, and power in punk’s past and present. I also argue against a singular notion of “Chicano Punk,” in which all participants in predominately Chicana/o and Latina/o punk scenes are assumed to hold similar motivations, objectives, ideologies, and aesthetic sensibilities. Examining multiple scenes across several decades reveals instead a complex and sometimes contradictory history of Latina/o participation in American punk scenes, with widely varying politics and aspirations across decades and even within individual scenes. Rather than attempt to make a grand argument about nearly forty years of “Chicano Punk,” it is more fruitful to look closely at several individual scenes in order to explore how discourses of race, as well as social, political, and economic factors shape Latina/os’ relationships to punk at particular times and in particular places. Though the conclusions I draw are largely specific to the particular scenes under examination, my study demonstrates the need to reexamine punk’s complicated relationship to race and points to several areas of inquiry through which a reexamination may be achieved.


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