‘Music is my AK-47’: performing resistance in Belfast's rebel music scene

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This article examines how some Irish republicans have used ‘rebel songs’ as a means to resist the hegemonic power of the British state, and how militant republicanism is invoked musically, through sonic and physical references to gunfire. It explores how the use of rebel songs has changed, the inherent tensions within today's scene, and how republicans attempt to co-opt other conflicts as a means to strengthen their claim as resistance fighters. The article also analyses more nuanced resistances within the rebel music scene, exploring how competing republican factions use the same music to express opposing political positions, and why some musicians ultimately leave the scene on account of the musical and political restrictions placed upon them. In so doing, the article connects with ongoing attempts to rethink, remap, and develop new approaches to resistance within anthropology, while contributing to the developing subfield of ‘ethnomusicology in times of trouble’.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)348-365
JournalJournal of the Royal Anthropological Institute
Issue number2
Early online date14 Apr 2018
Publication statusPublished - 01 Jun 2018
Externally publishedYes


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