PJAS 12 Spring-5

Grzegorz Welizarowicz
Feel Like a Gringo: Transnational Consciousness in Los Angeles Punk Rock Songs
Polish Journal for American Studies, vol. 12 (Spring 2018) pp. 55-73


The essay analyzes four songs from the catalogue of the Los Angeles punk rock scene of the late 1970s and early 1980s. It is argued that the songs, written in response to the reality of the life in Los Angeles and in the Mexican-American borderlands, are expressive of transnational consciousness. Interpreted in this way, the songs are revealed as embodying the processes of distancing and then readjusting of oneself in relation to the dominant narrative of the US Nation and hence embody the idea of cosmopolitanization. The first two songs are by Chicano artists and express transnational anxieties as they are experienced by the artists and their communities within the U.S. The other two songs were selected because they record tiny personal impressions by white artists who, once they cross the border into Mexico, are faced with a nexus of transnational processes, which confront their certainties and affect their consciousness. The analysis makes use of the theory of affects (Tomkins), the theory of cosmopolitanism (Beck), as well as a selection of historical analyses and personal accounts by the artists.

Keywords: Chicano, Los Angeles, punk rock, Minutemen, The Bags, Los Illegals, cosmopolitanization, gringo, borderlands

DOI: 10.7311/PJAS.12/1/2018.05

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