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Metal militia behind the Iron Curtain: Scene formation in 1980s East Germany

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The article offers results from a three-year Ph.D. research about the East German metal scene in the 1980s. Due to the political circumstances of a divided Germany, two separate German metal scenes arose. In focus will be aspects of politics and cultural transfer and flow as well as practices of the metal scene in socialist East Germany. The socialist state understood metal as a threatening western youth culture, though it quickly became one of the most popular youth cultures during the 1980s. The article explains how the scene developed partly unofficial and illegal ways of scene formation with domestic gigging bands, supra-regional trade-off networks and correspondence system, prospering black markets, and DIY practices. Therefore, the article further points out to the ambiguity of the 1980s East German socialism with the argument that simple concepts of confrontation and conflict between the state and youth culture are too simplistic.
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Keywords: 1980s; East Germany; European metal; GDR; dictatorship; state socialism

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: University of Music Franz Liszt Weimar

Publication date: 2016-09-01

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  • Metal Music Studies is the journal of the International Society for Metal Music Studies.

    The aims of the journal are:
    • To provide an intellectual hub for the International Society of Metal Music Studies and a vehicle to promote the development of metal music studies;
    • To be the focus for research and theory in metal music studies – a multidisciplinary (and interdisciplinary) subject field that engages with a range of parent disciplines, including (but not limited to) sociology, musicology, humanities, cultural studies, geography, philosophy, psychology, history, natural sciences;
    • To publish high-quality, world-class research, theory and shorter articles that cross over from the industry and the scene;
    • To be a world leader in interdisciplinary studies and be a unique resource for metal music studies.
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