Negotiating Machismo, ‘Exoticism’ and Feminism on the Dancefloor: Tango Argentino and Transcultural Encounters in the 20th and 21st Century (Review)

Federico Ribas, La Evolución del Tango …, Mundial Magazine, Nr. 28 (1913).

In the 20th century, tango argentino, Argentinean tango dancing, became a popular cultural practice in many metropolises all over the world. The image the broader public has of the traditional pair dancing style is, to a large degree, shaped by its depiction in mostly Western, but also Latin American popular culture. Movies such as Tango, no me dejes nunca [English title: Tango] (1998), Naked Tango (1998) and Scent of a Woman (1992) as well as celebrity dancing shows like Dancing with the Stars promote Argentinean tango as a highly sexualized, intimate and exotic dance oozing with stereotypical attributes of masculinity and femininity. In this sense, tango dancing can be fascinating and engaging, but may also be perceived as disreputable or discriminatory, and, thus, repelling. This tension makes for interesting and complicated characterizations of tango dancing, both when it first became a transnational phenomenon at the beginning of the 20th century and from a contemporary perspective. Continue reading

“In that mess we became part of the Geniale Dilletanten scene”: Mark Reeder and the West Berlin avant-garde music scene around 1980 (Interview)

Mark Reeder, 1999.

The West Berlin avant-garde music scene from around 1980 was a wild movement. This scene is an inexhaustive source of fascinating stories and ideas. For instance, while the rest of West Germany was trying to cope with the threat of a nuclear war, Blixa Bargeld tried to recreate the sound of collapsing buildings, and the girls from Malaria! played with the gruesome idea of bathing in ice cold and clear water, as if they couldn’t wait to speed things up and call upon the end of the world by themselves. Frontstadt West Berlin was the perfect playground for developing an experimental and mysterious scene like this one. But how to define this avant-garde scene?  Continue reading

Workshop: “How to Write and Conceptualize the History of Youth Cultures” (Berlin, 30.6.-1.7.2016)

Initially, delinquency and crime provided the lens through which academics discussed youth culture. Studying deviant behaviour ensured that criminologists focused on questions of re-education and the relationship between the newly-branded ‘teenager’, delinquency and youth culture.With the emergence of Cultural Studies in Britain, ‘youth’ was interpreted in generational terms, through which a critical understanding of the changing nature of British society could be inferred. Across the academic landscape of historical studies, however, youth cultures tend to play but a minor role in general overviews and historical narratives of the history of European societies after 1945.

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Projektskizze: “Growing up in the Metropolis. London’s Youth Culture in the Era of Globalization (1958-1974)”

Wollen wir verstehen was das Aufwachsen in der Metropole besonders macht, so müssen wir der Frage nachgehen, welche Eigenheiten städtische Gesellschaften besitzen. In seinem Aufsatz „Urbanism as a Way of Life“ definiert der Chicagoer Soziologe Louis Wirth die Stadt in Abgrenzung zum ländlichen Raum, charakterisiert durch Dichte, Heterogenität und Anonymität. Für Wirth war die Stadt “thus historically [..] the melting-pot of races, peoples, and cultures, and most favourable breeding-ground of new biological and cultural hybrids. It has not only tolerated but rewarded individual differences. It has brought together people from the ends of the earth because they are different and thus useful to one another, rather than because they are homogeneous and like-minded” (Wirth 1938:10). Continue reading

Workshop: “Muziek, Protest en Krakers in Berlijn” (Amsterdam, 26.4.2016)

Mark Reeder and Chanel 4’s presenter Murial Gray 1984 in West-Berlin. (© DEF Media)

De bijeenkomst plaatst de Berlijnse pop- en protestculturen van de jaren 1980 in een Europese en transnationale context. Hoe kun je de internationale ontwikkeling van de punk verbinden met lokale stadsgeschiedenis? Droegen de West-Berlijnse subculturen bij tot de veranderingen in de DDR, en zelfs tot de val van de Muur? Hoe gingen ze op in het herenigde Berlijn van 1990? Continue reading

Workshop: Räume, Märkte, Szenen – neue Arbeiten zur Popgeschichte (Berlin, 15.4.2016)

PopWorkshop-Party-PlakatPop- und Geschichtsforschung gingen lange Zeit getrennte Wege. Dies lag einerseits am programmatischen Anspruch auf Gegenwartsdeutung des auf neueste Trends fixierten Popdiskurses,[1] und andererseits an der (unter dem Kampfbegriff des „Kulturalismus“ trotzig behaupteten) Kulturabstinenz der Historiographie. Mit dem wachsenden zeithistorischen Interesse an den siebziger bis achtziger Jahren rücken nun zunehmend massen- und warenästhetische Aspekte der globalisierten Medien- und Informationsgesellschaften in den Fokus. Mittlerweile liegen erste Versuche der Systematisierung und Bündelung vor.[2] Popgeschichte versteht sich darin nicht als Methodenset oder gar als Schulbildung, sondern vielmehr als ein relevantes Themenfeld der Geschichte des 20. Jahrhunderts, auf dem unterschiedliche historiographische Verfahren zur Anwendung kommen.

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