Riot grrrl, race, and revival

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This essay ventures a critique of the existing historiography of riot grrrl and how the movement is narrated both "then" and "now" to contain and subsume the disruptions of race. The first counter-story commences with and departs from that scene of intimacy that is the semi-secret heart of riot grrrl's resonance, an aesthetics of access-to the means of production and creative labor, but also to more ephemeral properties of expertise and self-knowledge-through which the personal and the political are collapsed. The author argues that the resistive properties of intimacy might also replicate its intrusive ones, and conceive of change narrowly as the adjustment of the individual subject-recalibrating her capacity for love or shame, for instance-to the structural determinations that constitute the historical present. In doing so, the author shows how race confounded such intimacy in order to demarcate the boundaries of riot grrrl aesthetics as both form and critique. In a second counter-story, with riot grrrl now becoming the subject of so much retrospection, the author argues that how the critiques of women of color are narrated is important to how we remember feminisms and how we produce feminist futures. Here the author locates riot grrrl within a broader critique of the historiography of feminist movement, to question then the progressive teleologies of origin, episode, and succession that would limit the internal disturbances within feminisms to its critics, or to the past. Discussions about the contours and contents of these historiographical impulses are always political ones, insofar as they establish what forces should be considered memorable, and what crises be deemed responsible for unsettling feminist movements. These discussions are happening now, and will continue no doubt into the future, and the author offers this interruption as an alternate genealogy through which we might pursue a politics as "destroyers of the status quo."

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)173-196
Number of pages24
JournalWomen and Performance
Issue number2-3
StatePublished - Jul 1 2012


  • affect
  • feminism
  • genealogy
  • punk
  • race
  • riot grrrl
  • zines

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gender Studies
  • Visual Arts and Performing Arts


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