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'Revolutionising' subcultural theory : the cases of Cuban underground rap and Cuban reggaeton

Dimou, Eleni (2013) 'Revolutionising' subcultural theory : the cases of Cuban underground rap and Cuban reggaeton. Doctor of Philosophy (PhD) thesis, University of Kent. (doi:10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94306) (KAR id:94306)


This thesis is focusing on issues of power and resistance in two contemporary Cuban subcultures, namely Cuban underground rap and reggaeton during 2008- 2012. Using data gained from a five month ethnographic research in Havana during 2009-2011 with cultural producers of Cuban underground rap and reggaeton , I explore some of the paradoxes occurring within Cuban culture and power relations. Specifically, Cuban underground rap is revolutionary in its ideals and supported in official governmental discourses. However, in everyday reality it is censored and criminalized by Cuban authorities. Simultaneously reggaeton with its explicit focus on . hedonism, apolitical sentiments and consumerism is subverting and challenging Cuban ideology and morality. Although reggaeton is dismissed and not supported in official discourses, in everyday reality it is promoted and commercialized. Through the exploration of Cuban rap and reggaeton I attempt to illustrate that a bridging of the CCCS (Centre of Contemporary Cultural Studies) with post-subculture theory is necessary to be conducted in order to interpret the complex interplays of power and resistance in these two subcultures. Explicitly, issues of power and resistance were of high interest to the CCCS's interpretation of subcultures. With the post-subcultural turn there has been an explicit aim to move away from the CCCS's analysis of subcultures and its Marxist paradigm. While the CCCS was focusing mainly on "grounding" everyday life to class, ideology, structural changes and politics, the post-subcultural focal point is on fluidity, heterogeneity, hedonism, individual choice, apolitical sentiments, affects, consumerism and the intersection of the local with the global. Despite the fact that both approaches incorporate both micro (everyday life) and macro elements, the so called "obsession" (Griffin, 2011) of post-subcultural theory to move away from the structural approach of the Birmingham School, has positioned these two perspectives in rather oppositional terrains. Particularly, the post-subcultural perspective argues that the Gramscian notion of hegemony is no longer adequate in explaining the complex interplays of power and resistance within late-modern contemporary societies (Beasley-Murrey, 2003). Rather drawing on Spinoza’s notion of potential (Maffessoli’s (1996) puissance: power from below, the inner energy of people), Beasley-Murrey (2003), Lash (2007) and Thoburn (2007) argue that we have entered into a post-hegemonic period and thus, we should focus on the micro-politics of power and resistance, which are experienced and realised in everyday life. It will be illustrated that both approaches on power, resistance and subcultures despite the tensions, are compatible with one another. Specifically, drawing on the new developing stream of cultural criminology, this thesis aims to demonstrate that despite the existing tensions between the CCCS and post-­subculture theory the two perspectives complement one another. Hence a bridging of the two perspectives is not only required but necessary in order to gain a better understanding on issues of power, resistance and subcultures in contemporary societies. Additionally, this thesis adopts the de-colonial perspective of “border thinking” (Mignolo, 2000:84) which calls us to think both from western and local (Cuban) traditions of knowledge. Though this perspective, the thesis will demonstrate that a bridging of local, modern and postmodern theories is required in our interpretation of power, resistance and subcultures in Cuba. By incorporating a de-colonial perspective, this thesis will illustrate on the one hand, the value of incorporating locally (Cuban) produced knowledge; and on the other, that a reconciliation of modern and postmodern theories is required in our interpretation of power, resistance and subcultures. Thus, despite the fundamental differences of Cuba to the rest of the world, a more fulsome consideration of the Cuban case shows the existing opportunities and importance of reconciling these perspectives in more general global level. Hence by investigating Cuban rap and reggaeton I aim to drive further subcultural theory and cultural criminology in their interpretations of power, resistance and subcultures.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctor of Philosophy (PhD))
DOI/Identification number: 10.22024/UniKent/01.02.94306
Additional information: This thesis has been digitised by EThOS, the British Library digitisation service, for purposes of preservation and dissemination. It was uploaded to KAR on 25 April 2022 in order to hold its content and record within University of Kent systems. It is available Open Access using a Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives ( licence so that the thesis and its author, can benefit from opportunities for increased readership and citation. This was done in line with University of Kent policies ( If you feel that your rights are compromised by open access to this thesis, or if you would like more information about its availability, please contact us at and we will seriously consider your claim under the terms of our Take-Down Policy (
Subjects: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Divisions: Divisions > Division for the Study of Law, Society and Social Justice > School of Social Policy, Sociology and Social Research
SWORD Depositor: SWORD Copy
Depositing User: SWORD Copy
Date Deposited: 09 Jun 2023 15:08 UTC
Last Modified: 09 Jun 2023 15:31 UTC
Resource URI: (The current URI for this page, for reference purposes)

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