Punk Rock Is My Religion

I posted a couple of days ago an animated picture, showing the various areas of interests of mine. I plan to make a video out of it, explaining how those came to be and what they mean. The short version is that there seems to be three principles (Religion, Technology, Sociology) and three modes of transfer (book, film, music) that I am engaged with to various degrees.

As I was looking at the picture I noticed that, there are combinations where I spend proportionately less time, than with others. E.g. Music and Sociology is something I didn’t study explicitly yet, although I could name 2-3 books I read on the topic. Soon after I noticed this I got an email alert pointing to PhD thesis bearing the title “Punk Rock Is My Religion“. That piqued my interest, so I opened it. Its subtitle was more explanatory, “An Exploration of Straight Edge punk as a Surrogate of Religion“. Right now anyone can download it from the website of University of Stirling. (5 MB, PDF) It was written by Francis Elizabeth Stewart and “submitted in fulfilment of the doctoral dissertation requirements of the School of Language, Culture and Religion.”

I was never straight edge, but liked the music and found the movement fascinating. Looking forward reading, although I don’t know when will I find the time though as it is 354 pages. Here is the abstract:

Using a distinctly and deliberately interdisciplinary approach to the subject of religion and spirituality as it presents itself within modern Western Societies today, this thesis argues that Straight Edge hardcore punk is a surrogate for religion. The term surrogate is used to denote the notion of a successor and a protector and provider of nourishment. It has been re-interpreted from Theodore Ziolkowski’s work on the same term in ‘Modes of Faith’, in which he examines surrogates for religion which emerged during the early part of the 20th century.

An in-depth study, both theoretical and ethnographic in nature and presentation, of Straight Edge hardcore punk is provided to demonstrate that traditionally held categories of religion, secular, sacred and profane are being dismantled and re-built around ideas of authenticity, community, integrity, d.i.y and spirituality. Through the syncretic practices of the Straight Edge adherents they are de-essentialising religion and thus enabling us to re-consider the question of what religion is or could be.

This thesis relies on theoretical ideas, interview quotes, informant quotes, researcher taken photographs, and interviewee created or utilised images, tattoos, graffiti and flyers. All of these are interspersed with song lyrics from various bands relevant to the time period under discussion and the themes being drawn out. Much like the adherents themselves, this thesis exists very much within the space of the ‘in-between’, which creates and reacts to necessary tensions throughout.

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