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January 12, 2010 / JV

Riot Grrrls in the Libraries (and Jazz at the Lincoln Center)

bikini kill

Kathleen Hanna, one of the founding members of bands Bikini Kill and (more recently) Le Tigre, has made a sizable donation to New York University. According to an internal announcement from NYU’s library system, Hanna has given NYU’s Fales Library her “papers,” comprised of materials that document the Riot Grrrl Movement from 1989 to 1996, probably including old zines from her Evergreen days as well as other writings.

The papers will be added to NYU’s newly established Riot Grrrl Collection, which “will support scholarship in feminism, punk activism, queer theory, music history and more.”

How punk is this?


And about the Riot Grrrl Collection and Jazz at the Lincoln Center… I think both are ways of institutionalizing and canonizing an art. But with jazz what we also saw embedded in the process of canonization was the desire to claim black music for a faceless “america”. Part of that project was to pretend jazz wasn’t born out of a situation of being black in the south and to recast it as “high culture” entertainment. Riot Grrrl on the other hand, was basically white girls on their punk white feminist steez in a not-punk, (white-happy), sexist, patriarchal (etc) country. In a way, both are stories of formerly outcast sub/countercultures being embraced by mainstream or popular culture (usually signified by insertion into the academy and extensive attention from the commercial sector (See Hip-Hop)). And in a way, perhaps, something is lost in that embrace. But then again, maybe that’s just what happens when something becomes “history”.


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