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No Sir, I Won't

Sat, 29 Jun 2013

No Sir, I Won't

I went to a symposium at Oxford Brookes University yesterday on the subject of the band Crass and the legacy of anarcho-punk. I've had a big interest in Crass since the late-1990s (and a general awareness of them since being a student in the late-1980s) so wondered what the academic take on the band would be.

The event was entitled No Sir, I Won't (paraphrasing the title of the Crass album) and featured an exhibition of artwork, talks and a round table discussion. The talks started with some analysis of Crass and anarcho-punk's political legacy, then looked at how the scene is represented (or not) in the mainstream 'canon' of punk and post-punk music history. This was followed by a study of politics in anarcho-punk graphics and then a discussion of whether there was more to the scene than just music.

Towards the end of the day there was the round table discussion. George McKay read from a series of letters he exchanged with Crass in the late 1970s and Sarah McHendry talked about here experiences in being in bands and running events at the time. Penny Rimbaud (the drummer from Crass) was also present and took questions form the audience. Although I found the talks insightful, for me this was the best session. I think the most important legacy of Crass and anarcho-punk is how it changed the lives of the people involved. Sarah McHendry's talk in particular was full of examples of how her creativity was ignited by her involvement in the scene and the community it introduced her to.

Information about the event can be found on the Hippies Now Wear Black website. It was organised in association with the Punk Scholars Network. See my pictures of the event on Flickr.

Author: Sean Clark