Cosmopolitan intimacy: antifolk in Berlin and New York

Kom, Mathias (2017) Cosmopolitan intimacy: antifolk in Berlin and New York. Doctoral (PhD) thesis, Memorial University of Newfoundland.

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In the early 2000s, New York’s insular and relatively unknown antifolk music scene gained a significant number of new fans in Germany, thanks to the overseas success of antifolk exports The Moldy Peaches. In Berlin, a small antifolk scene began to form, with local songwriters connecting and collaborating both virtually and face to face with New York artists. This dissertation explores these connections, and suggests that the translocal antifolk community joins the distinct scenes in New York and Berlin through a cosmopolitan intimacy that emphasizes friendship and mutual support, but also makes room for differing interpretations of what it means to make music on the margins. I demonstrate that although the antifolk community is in some ways defined by movement, it is also fixed in local affinities, and cosmopolitan intimacy is a productive means to understand this tense simultaneity. Tension also emerges in differing readings of the political economy of antifolk, especially as it plays out in multiplex understandings of the ethos of “do-it-yourself” (DIY). I argue that, in antifolk, DIY is both an anticapitalist political stance, and a strategy of bootstrap capitalism and economic survival. Likewise, antifolk can be read as a queer space of radical, productive failure, and as a community that encourages consumers to become producers, in collaborative, participatory performances and relationships. However, I also suggest that antifolk is never truly outside the mainstream it seems to oppose, but is inevitably imbricated in it. These simultaneities emerge in the songs, performances, practices and discourse of the antifolk community, characterized as often by disagreement as cohesion. Ultimately, I argue that theories of intimacy and cosmopolitanism can help to understand antifolk as a space of fragmented unity and productive disjuncture.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral (PhD))
Item ID: 13112
Additional Information: Includes bibliographical references (pages 424-455).
Keywords: Antifolk, Cosmopolitanism, Intimacy, Failure, DIY, Music scenes
Department(s): Music, School of
Date: 2017
Date Type: Submission
Library of Congress Subject Heading: Folk music -- New York (State) -- New York -- 21st century; Folk music -- Germany -- Berlin -- 21st century

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