technical paper

AAA Annual Meeting 2021

November 18, 2021

Baltimore, United States

Breton Punk: rock, punk, and the redefinition of Breton identity in Brittany, France

keywords:

music and sound

identity

performance

This paper explores the influence of rock and punk on Breton music and the impact of these musical genres on Breton identity. Located on the coast of Northwestern France, Brittany has deep Celtic linguistic and cultural roots, which the French central administration tried to significantly undermine. In response to this attempt at French hegemony, a Breton cultural revival movement emerged beginning in the early twentieth century. Music has been central to this movement since its very beginning. Significant efforts were made to collect and archive historical tunes and songs, new forms of musical expressions and festivities developed, and music remained closely associated with various forms of political and social protests in Brittany throughout the twentieth century. A central characteristic of the Breton musical landscape since the 1980s has been the growing importance of rock and punk. Bands such as EV, Plantec, or the Ramoneurs de Menhir, to name only a few, have become increasingly present on the Breton music scene, bringing not only new sounds and perspectives on the rich Breton musical tradition, but also new forms of social and political discourses. Based on six months of ethnographic research, and focusing on bands that have been at the forefront of this movement, this paper traces this cultural history and explores the complex and multi-faceted ways in which the incorporation of new musical genres has redefined key markers of Breton cultural identity.

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