Strangers in a Dead Land: Redemption and Regeneration in the European Counterculture /

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Bibliographic Details
Author / Creator:Smith, Jake Patrick, author.
Ann Arbor : ProQuest Dissertations & Theses, 2017
Description:1 electronic resource (313 pages)
Format: E-Resource Dissertations
Local Note:School code: 0330
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Other authors / contributors:University of Chicago. degree granting institution.
Notes:Advisors: Michael Geyer Committee members: Leora Auslander; Tara Zahra.
This item is not available from ProQuest Dissertations & Theses.
Dissertation Abstracts International, Volume: 78-12(E), Section: A.
Summary:This dissertation explores the social, cultural, and aesthetic practices developed by German speaking countercultural movements in the three decades following 1968. Focusing primarily on experimental artists, on urban activists, and on youth "scenes," I argue that urban countercultures in cities such as Berlin and Zurich played a critical role in the development and propagation of a post-industrial, "postmodern" aesthetic that has since become ubiquitous in cities throughout Europe. While not discounting narratives that attribute the emergence of post-industrial society to structural shifts in the economy, I argue that it is also necessary to examine the role of urban activist groups in initiating and shaping this transformation. I locate the emergence of these novel social, cultural, and aesthetic forms in a late 1970s shift in the urban countercultural imaginary from what I am calling "redemptive politics" to a focus on more immediate social, cultural, and political "regeneration."
The first section explores the activist and countercultural milieus that proliferated in the years between 1967 and 1977 and argues that the "redemptive activists" of these years engaged in militant actions designed to save the world from what they believed to be an apocalyptic future. The second section turns to the volatile years following the "German Autumn" of 1977 and explores the shifting spatial and temporal imaginaries within the European left in which the focus on redemption and salvation faded into a desire for more immediate and total regeneration. Such regenerative fantasies proved exceptionally appealing for the large numbers of disaffected urban youth who were no longer excited by the theoretical pronouncements and ideological orthodoxy of redemptive politics and, in 1980-81, sparked a series of violent youth revolts in which hundreds of houses were squatted across north-central Europe and in which anarchist youth rioted in cities across the continent. Finally, in the third section, I explore the manifold ways in which the experimental social, cultural, and aesthetic practices developed by activists in the 1980s began to take root in mainstream urban life. Here, I argue that these practices left a lasting legacy on the urban fabric as well on the culture and politics of post-Cold War Europe.