Making a Noise – Making a Difference: Techno-Punk and Terra-ism

  • Graham St John University of Queensland, Australia
Keywords: techno, post-punk, anarcho-punk, hardcore, sound systems, post-colonialism, Sydney techno-punk scene


This article charts the convergence of post-punk/post-settler logics in the techno-punk development in Australia. Exploring how punk would become implicated in the cultural politics of a settler society struggling for legitimacy, it maps the ground out of which Labrats sound system (and their hybrid outfit Combat Wombat) arose. It provides an entry to punk through an analysis of the concept of hardcore in the context of cultural mobilisations which, following more than two centuries of European colonisation, evince desires to make reparations and forge alliances with indigenous people and landscape. To achieve this, the article traces the contours and investigates the implications of Sydney’s techno-punk emergence (as seen in The Jellyheads, Non Bossy Posse, Vibe Tribe and Ohms not Bombs), tracking the mobile and media savvy exploits of 1990s DIY sound systems and techno terra-ists, aesthetes and activists adopting intimate and tactical media technologies, committing to independent and decentralised EDM creativity, and implicated in a movement for legitimate presence.

Author Biography

Graham St John, University of Queensland, Australia
I am a Research Associate at the University of Queensland’s Centre for Critical and Cultural Studies, and was recently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in Interactive Media and Production at the University of Regina, Saskatchewan, and an SSRC Residential Fellow at the School for Advanced Research, Santa Fe, New Mexico. As an anthropologist of electronic dance music cultures, festivals, and movements, my latest book is Technomad: Global Raving Countercultures (Equinox, October 2009). I am currently completing Global Tribe: Religion, Technology and Psytrance (Blackwell). My edited collection The Local Scenes and Global Culture of Psytrance will be published by Routledge in 2010. Previous collections include Victor Turner and Contemporary Cultural Performance (Berghahn 2008), Rave Culture and Religion (Routledge, 2004), and FreeNRG: Notes From the Edge of the Dance Floor (Commonground, 2001). I am Executive Editor down at Dancecult.
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