Next CERG Event: Valuing subcultural histories: the politics of curatorial practice

Date and Time

Wed, July 17, 2019

6:00 PM – 11:00 PM

Pub On The Park

19 Martello Street


E8 3PE


Was the cultural commentator, Jacques Peretti correct when he accused retro obsessed ‘cultural necrophiliacs’ of vampirically draining subcultures of their youthful vitality? In enduring the nostalgic proclamations of these middle-aged reactionaries as they assert ownership of a self-proclaimed legacy of radical politics, what does it mean to witness yet another launch event for an institutionalised celebration of an ‘underground’, ‘edgy’ youth tribe? Conversely, how can current dispossessed youth acquire an authorial voice when its public value is limited to news fodder for a rabid right-wing press cynically seeking scapegoats in austerity Britain? Who would want to be young now?

This latest Cultural Engine Research Group event, chaired by Dr Andrew Branch (CERG, UEL), will address these questions by focusing on the challenges and opportunities facing curators of British youth subcultures and how we might usefully define the concept itself. Invited speakers will debate how curatorial bodies can reflexively engage with academics whose work documents the politics of youth subcultural practice, past and present, and why these legacies matter.


Iain Aitch
Iain Aitch is an author, journalist and artist whose work looks at the social history of the working class. He is a Director of Rendezvous Projects and is currently working on a book and exhibition about beauty queens. Of particular relevance for this event, Iain has been artist and writer in residence at Turner Contemporary, Margate, producing a photographic show about subcultures as a} result of working with those living in the town and identifying with its subversive heritage. This work was shown alongside work by Banksy, Bowie and Warhol.

Dr Andrew Calcutt
Since graduating 40 years ago, Andrew Calcutt has been a record producer (praised by radio djs John Peel and Charlie Gillett), magazine journalist (his byline appeared in Arena, Blueprint, Living Marxism and The Modern Review, to name but a few), broadcaster (from BBC Radio Four’s Moral Maze to Channel 4’s Zeitgeist), digital pioneer (commissioning editor for Channel Cyberia and award-winning Cscape), and prolific author of a host of books on culture and society, including Fictitious Capital: London After recession, White Noise, Cult Fiction, BritCult, and his own ‘cult classic’ from the 1990s, Arrested Development: pop culture and the erosion of adulthood, which has just been reissued by Bloomsbury. Andrew teaches at all levels of the University of East London’s BA Journalism programme. His research interests include the regeneration of East London and the remaking of journalism. Twenty years ago he coined the term ‘hackademic’ to describe his own transition from journalism to academia.

Dr William Henry
Born in Lewisham of Jamaican parentage, William Henry DJs as British Reggae icon Lezlee Lyrix, as well as being a writer, poet and community activist. Lez’s experience of formal education has taken him from access course student to teaching and researching at the University of West London in his current role as Associate Professor of sociology and anthropology. He is what Gramsci would have identified as an organic intellectual. Lez also has a passion for karate, which reminds us of Pierre Bourdieu’s definition of sociology as a martial art: a tool used by the dominated to defend themselves against the dominant.

Dr Sarah Raine
Sarah Raine is a Research Fellow at the Birmingham Centre for Media and Cultural Research (BCMCR). Having completed a funded PhD at BCU on the contemporary northern soul scene, she is now an AHRC Creative Economy Engagement Fellow, working in partnership with Cheltenham Jazz Festival on their Keychange (PRS Foundation) initiative pledge. Sarah is a founding member and co-manages Riffs, a journal run by the staff and students of the BCMCR. She is also the Review Editor for Popular Music History.

Prof Matt Worley
Author of numerous highly-rated journal articles and books, Matt Worley’s (Reading University) interests lie in the field of subcultural histories, and how British youth practice has responded to the divergent political discourse shaping post-war Britain. His most recent book is No future: punk, politics and British youth culture, 1976-1984. Matt has also worked regularly outside of the academy, collaborating recently with the artist, Scott King on the project, Crash! Nostalgia for the Jet Age. His current project is curating the complex histories of British fanzine cultures during and beyond first-wave punk.

Music and visuals on the night. Food avaliable to order, with private outdoor space and bar open until 12am.

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