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Title: The way out : invisible insurrections and radical imaginaries in the UK underground 1961-1991
Author: Frederiksen, Kasper Opstrup
ISNI:       0000 0004 5357 5430
Awarding Body: Birkbeck (University of London)
Current Institution: Birkbeck (University of London)
Date of Award: 2014
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This thesis explores a 'hidden' cultural history of experiments to engineer culture to transform humanity. Through a mixture of ideas drawn from artistic avant-garde movements as well as new social and religious movements, it examines the radical political and hedonist imaginaries of the experimental fringes of the UK Underground. Even though the theatres of operation have changed more than once since 1991 with the rise of the internet and a globalised finance economy, these imaginaries still raise questions that speak directly to the contemporary. My central inquiry examines the relations between collective practices with an explicit agenda of cultural revolution and discourses of direct revolutionary action, cultural guerrilla warfare and patchwork spirituality, all aiming to generate new forms of social life. These expanded practices blurred the lines between inner and outer, the invisible and the material. Four singular concatenations of aesthetics, politics, education and mysticism in the period from 1961 to 1991 are the objects of my examination: the sigma project, London Anti-University, Academy 23 and thee Temple ov Psychick Youth. At the core of these imaginaries is an idea about a new type of 'action university', a communal affair which would improvise a new type of social relation into existence by de-programming and de-conditioning us without any blueprints for the future besides to 'make it happen'. The goal of its production would be to produce new subjectivities, new commons and new social relations, thus realising another world 'in the shell of the old' through simple acts of pooling resources, sharing knowledge and building international channels for the exchange of information. Instead of being turned upside down, the world was to be changed from the inside out. Besides historicising and contextualising parts of the 1960s underground which has been relegated to footnotes, the thesis promotes a reading which is neither solely aesthetic (artistic avant-garde) nor political (revolutionary communism) but argues that those tendencies are dependent upon each other. Instead, the case studies can be fruitfully examined as examples on cultural engineering, speculative techniques for igniting an invisible insurrection with cultural means. Thus, it contributes to a discussion of art, medias, politics and radical education in the contemporary.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available