Chinese Punk: The Culture of Resistance of Wuhan Punk
Title：Chinese Punk: The Culture of Resistance of Wuhan Punk
XU Daoheng ( 徐道衡 )
Master 2017 Thesis
This thesis attempts to examine the resistance culture of Chinese punk through specifically looking at the case of the cultural practices of the punk bands and musicians in the city of Wuhan. There have been growing studies on contemporary Chinese rock music culture. However, most studies focus on treating the Chinese rock music culture as merely a production of Western pop culture influence. Based on the case of Wuhan punk cultural practices, this thesis argues that the rock music cultural practices in China have provided their own critical responses, however limited, to the contemporary social issues. The Chinese punk cultural practices can be viewed as a culture of resistance, which is exemplified not only through their music, but also through their spatial practices.
The thesis consists of three chapters. The first chapter critically examines the social and historical conditions of the emergence of Wuhan punk culture. It looks at how since 1990s multiple social factors, such as the reform of state-owned enterprises, the rise of urban consumer culture, the commercialization of higher education, the changing of Wuhan urban space have all effected on the emergence and the transformation of Wuhan punk culture. At the same time, the transformation of the music production and music media in China have also greatly impacted on Wuhan punk. The second chapter examines the musical practices of Wuhan punk by specifically looking at the most influential band SMZB. It investigates the meaning of “resistance” in the musical practices of the band SMZB through their lyrics, music and performances. It looks at three major questions. Firstly, how does the band understand the historical conditions of its resistance? Secondly, how does the band form their object of resistance? Thirdly, how the band helps us to understand the subjectivity of resistance in Chinese punk culture? The third chapter shift the focus from music to the spatial practices of resistance of Wuhan punk. It examines Wuhan punk’s cultural practices in three spaces: the “Prison Bar”, an anarchist experimental cultural space which is called “Our Home”, and the East Lake of Wuhan. The “Prison Bar” where the punk participants and fans usually gathered together provided an affect space, which is in contrast with the ordinary pubs for consumption. It formed a communal tie of sharing and communication, which moved beyond a space for punk fan clubs. “Our home” provided an alternative experimental space for Wuhan punk youth to practice their ideals of anarchism, but also revealed its own limits. Through the case of “Wuhan East Lake Art Project”, the chapter also looks at how Wuhan punk youth participated in “artistic” practices, and how they attempted to create alternative ways of imagining and using space to resist against the capitalist production of space in the rapid process of urbanization in China.