to the homepage of Agnes Jasper, Cultural Anthropologist.
Title of her Master-Thesis for the University of Amsterdam is:
of the Gothic Underground: An Endo-Ethnographic Perspective
on Gothic Subculture; Identity, Consumerism and the Gothic Aesthetic
from the Inside Out.'
is also a short film by Chris Relleke.
topics of interest are Underground Subcultures, Authenticity
and Identity, Consumer-behaviour and Dark Aesthetics, Fieldwork
and Participant Observation, and the aproach to research material
and fields typical for Sensuous Scholarship.
Summary of 'Mysts of the Gothic Underground':
thesis starts with a paragraph on my insider-position: on how
I entered the field, as insider and later also as researcher,
a reflexive approach to my motivation to study 'my own group
of people', and my ideas and goals for anthropological writing.
With participant observation being the key of anthropological
research, I shall devote a paragraph to this particular practice,
and my 'schizophrenic' or ambiguous position of being a cultural
producer and cultural researcher at the same time. I also reflect
on how I selected my informants, when and where I did research,
how I gathered my research-data, and so forth.
I deals with notions of authenticity and identity in Dutch gothic
subculture. I focus on the paradox of being a subcultural insider,
i.e. being simultaneously an individual and a member of a homogenous
group. This paradox also triggers the problem of authentic identity.
Gothic insiders emphasize that they are not Goths, but that
they identify with what they describe as gothic, only to explain
later that that is not authentic gothic. I will argue that this
denial is a subcultural strategy, a way to 'ward off' classificatory
strategies of dominant, non-subcultural culture. Namely, as
soon as criteria for sub-cultural identity are conceptualised,
they can be copied by outsiders, and this should preferably
be avoided. Empirical material will display how gothic subcultural
identity is practiced within the monitoring and conceptualising
processes prompted by outsiders like the media, and how authenticity
seems to be a void, nothing but an abstract, unspoken, sub-cultural
II is concerned with notions of subculture and dominant culture,
alternative culture and mainstream culture, underground culture
and upper-ground culture, and their inherent dichotomy, that
contains power-structures and power-struggles. I argue that
insiders to Gothic culture see their cultural position, as it
were, placed on a battlefield between their 'safe haven of Goth'
and a bright lit commercialised world of profit-oriented business
of which they both cannot do without. In order to come to terms
with this view, insiders feel the urge to reason subcultural
or personal autonomy and independence from this world that seems
to change and distort what they perceive as 'Gothic', or 'as
their culture, party, music, identity, clothes', precisely because
their raison d'Ítre, their subcultural identity, as being different
from the mainstream, is threatened. There is a paradox inherent
in this cultural practice, found in the battle that is subculturally
reasoned to be won each time, and the dependence on the established
system (jobs, subsidies, venues and so on) for external resources.
III is moves away from more traditional anthropological and
ethnographic themes, and turns to a more sensuous and interdisciplinary
form of scholarship, in order to come to better turns with the
Gothic aesthetic. The Gothic, decadentist perspective has always
been used as a medium to express the darker sides of culture.
Modern culture's context of mass-production and commerce as
it is experienced by gothic subculture, shall be mirrored to
the worldview, social psychology and dark romanticism of a late
19th century group of darkly inclined people: the Decadents,
the Bohemians, the Dandies. Subcultural expressions of being
'dead' and 'buried' reflect a way of coping with, or living
in modern leisure times. Being, or playing 'dead' points to
the practice of incorporating only things that are culturally
denied and tabooed, and being 'buried', hidden, underground,
implicates practicing a lifestyle away from a culture that has
no aesthetic similarity. It is within the poetic realm, the
world of aesthetics, that Gothic seems to find its 'truth',
its home, its freedom. It seems that this poetic realm is the
solution to the subculture's problem with the economised world
it is living in. A short film by Chris Relleke is attached to