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220 Book reviews

so-called violence-prone faith and culture to diverse parts of the West, but also they
establish ethnic enclaves within the host countries, which implies that they pose an
additional threat because they are unassimilable (p. 51).
In the chapter titled The Incommensurability of Liberalism and Puritan Islam Vann
reads into the Quran that gender inequality and homophobia are essential to Islam, and
claims that it is not possible to reconcile Islam with liberalism and secularism. This highly
prejudiced and rather ignorant claim not only completely overlooks the various debates on
these issues among theologians, ideologues and scholars of Islam, but also conveniently
ignores the significant rise of Islamic liberalism in places like Turkey.
Vanns observations are mostly based on immigrant Muslim communities living in the US, yet
he does not hesitate to generalize these to the whole Muslim World that actually includes a wide
diversity of populations and groups from the secular Muslims of Turkey to Sufi orders of
Pakistan to the Algerian rappers in the streets of Paris. Islam certainly has many divergences,
controversies, inner inconsistencies, diversity and range of application, and many democrats,
radicals, liberals, conservatives, fanatics, fundamentalists, or secularists just as any other religion.

# 2013 Alev Cnar


Department of Political Science and International Relations
Mugla University, Turkey;
Institute for Advanced Study, Princeton University, USA
alevcin@gmail.com
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2012.715664

Stephen Duncombe and Maxwell Tremblay (eds), WHITE RIOT: PUNK ROCK AND THE
POLITICS OF RACE, New York: Verso, 2011, xvii  371 pp., $24.95/14.99 (paper)

As a homage to the tone and structure of White Riot, I begin with an autobiographical vignette,
a note on the personal with a latent desire for the transgressive or what Paul Gilroy called the
circuitry (p. 183) for new social relationships and new political horizons. Its 1985 and I had
been kicked out of a preppy private school in Norfolk, Virginia. A simple case of arson, you
know, setting fire to some annoying kids locker. In the end, it was all about boredom and
frustration. I continued to hang out with my four best friends from that school: a middle-class
black kid, a working-class black kid, a working-class Jew and a trust-fund, privileged, white kid.
Im white and was an underachieving middle-class teen. We skated at loading docks at night
revved up on Minor Threat, Bad Brains and Agent Orange and cooled down by ruminating
about whatever under an herbal haze to the sounds of Steel Pulse and the Specials. I think we
were all happy to simply have an outlet. I wanted difference, instigation and exploration. I
drifted from surf punk to skate punk to hardcore to thrash metal. Like many of the punkers
described in White Riot, I failed to reflect on race and punk. I saw it as simple; punk is anti-
establishment and thus anti-racist from an assumed idea of whiteness. End of story.
What happens to identity, when a pop culture movement bases its existence on opposition
and postmodern pastiche? The answer unsurprisingly is complicated. In this fascinating
collection of band interviews, punk zine excerpts and academic essays, Duncombe and
Tremblay show the reader how it could be that punk has inspired simultaneously a number
of progressive, anti-racist and xenophobic, neo-Nazi movements.
Punk is a confrontational deconstruction of common sense. It celebrates the bare, public
wall and encourages individuals to vomit all over it as an expression of rage and
dissatisfaction through a repurposing of music, fashion, language and overt politics. The
focus on the individual as the locus of independence and resistance is what Traber discusses
in his essay on L.A.s White Minority as the main obstacle in punks potential to be a
transgressive social movement. The problem, one that, for better or worse, has generated the
diversity of punk styles and identities, is that the refashioning of Nazi swastikas along with
nigger and faggot discourses is not the same as the camp mockery of shopping mall fads
Book reviews 221
and Dairy Queen boredom. What was missed by so many punkers, especially early on in the
1970s and 1980s, is that meaning is a dynamic relationship between semiotic intention and
reception. As essays from the latter sections of the book demonstrate, my favourite being
Mimi Nguyens Its not a white world, some signs are saturated with long histories of hate
and violence and seriously undermine the legitimacy of happy-go-lucky pastiche.
White Riot is divided into eight sections to address punk as a form of racialization. In the first
half of the book the editors explore what it means when punk is understood as a white
subculture. In other words, if punk is a form of white radicalism, as suggested by music critic
Jeff Chang (first cited on p. 6), emergent from an inchoate whiteness (p. 5), recurrent themes
throughout the book, what kinds of expressions are the results? The reader discovers tropes of
white exoticization of blackness and appropriation of black struggle into punk resistance (long
history, the editors choose Mailers The White Negro and Baldwins reply as a starting
dialectic) as well as declarative xenophobia among a certain faction of skinheads, particularly in
the UK (e.g., the material on the band Skrewdriver). The second half of the book recovers the
historical fact that many early punkers were influenced by Jamaican reggae and reminds the
reader of the significance of migration as part of postcolonialism and globalization. Duncombe
and Tremblay then use the ensuing four sections to open up the diversity of punk agency from a
non-white (and by extension feminist and non-heterosexual) perspective. In short, the question
here is: does punks oppositionality afford a space for new formations of Latinidad, blackness
and national identities or do participants ultimately need to check their racial and ethnic
differences at the door in the name of a liberating but nebulous punk identity?
White Riot is an accessible book suited for undergraduate students and even engaged high
school students. Although some readers, unfamiliar with punk history, may get side-tracked
by the sheer number of artists, Duncombe and Tremblay offer the reader a set of recurrent
texts thereby making the collection coherent. Musically, Xs song Los Angeles, Black
Flags White Minority, the Clashs White Riot and Police and Thieves are steady
references in punk understandings of racial irony and white sampling of blackness,
respectively. Academically, Dick Hebdiges Subculture: The Meaning of Style is a consistent
backdrop as authors gauge if blackwhite interculturality is really possible and if punk
polysemy is as flexible and dynamic as the postmoderns would hope. My only main criticism
has to do with race and space. While the reader learns something about L.A., New York and
London suburbs in the abstract, the editors could have pushed a bit more their interpretation
to cover the particularities of scenes, a term significantly theorized in ethnomusicology and
popular music studies over the past decade. A promising foray occurs in Habel-Pallans piece
in which she conveys the racial geography of East L.A. in her description of the Vex. Such
interpretation would contribute significantly to an understanding of the geography of race in
the expression of punk. That aside, White Riot is a provocation for all punkers to check
yourself and a looking glass for anyone interested in youth and popular culture. Spoiler
alert: many a cult hero and punk icon are outed in this book as insensitive bigots.

# 2013 Derek Pardue


Department of Anthropology and International and Area Studies
Washington University in St. Louis
dpardue@artsci.wustl.edu
http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/01419870.2012.715663

John H. Stanfield II, HISTORICAL FOUNDATIONS OF BLACK REFLEXIVE


SOCIOLOGY, Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2011, 317 pp., 27.08 (paper); BLACK
REFLEXIVE SOCIOLOGY: EPISTEMOLOGY, THEORY AND METHODOLOGY,
Walnut Creek, CA: Left Coast Press, 2011, 361 pp., 27.08 (paper)

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