Historians Terence Ranger and Eric Hobsbawm compiled a book, way back in 1983, called The Invention of Tradition. Oversimplifying: the book is dedicated around recounting ways in which traditions, through historical process or started consciously, have come to represent and maintain an idea of a culture, a nation, or so on. An example of this is the invention of the image of punks. According to (my version of) Google, punks look like this:

(Image from http://blommingthenewhairstyle.blogspot.com/)

While there does seem to be a strain of this sort of imagery from the late 1970s (more London than New York), it is easy to argue that the original NYC and London punks were a much more diverse bunch (musically, anyway). This variation of the punk asthetic, rather, appears to have come to prominance through the Scottish punk band, The Exploited, who appeared a few years after the original scenes.

However, the point remains. This image of punk is an invented tradition which has come to, partly, define the subculture. The music has, arguably, gone through the process, but that is an arguement for another time and place. Not enough tweed involved, really. But, what happens when the tradition comes before the idea of the movement?

It would seem that the Muslim punk scene Taqwacore “movement” has happened this way around. Author Michael Muhammad Knight wrote about the scene in his books, and then the scene was “invented” (if you will). However, according to Imram Malik of the Kominas (a “Taqwacore” band):

Newsweek wrote about a band called Secret Trial Five at a time when they hadn’t even made any music. Not a single song. This was probably one of the most documented and interviewed scenes out there, and it wasn’t even authentic.

Today there might be 60 people tops who define themselves as Taqwacore artists… But they’re scattered through America, Canada, Pakistan and Indonesia. There’s not this collection of Muslim kids with mohawks in any one place. And the strongest followings are in Indonesia, where the bands are kind of hardline Islam and don’t like gays and all that. Which isn’t really the point.”

(From an article in the Guardian: http://www.guardian.co.uk/music/2011/aug/04/islanic-punk-muslim-taqwacores)

Is it really possible to create a top-down sub/counter-culture, especially one based around notions of rebellion? The internet has not, arguably, provided the intimacy for something like a music scene to be created. Aleks Krotoski noted that studies suggest that the internet is reinforcing the local, instead of creating the global, youth cultures:

Psychologically, “youth culture” is the outcome of the process that kids, navigating the tortured period of adolescence, go through as they seek a community that’s distinct from that which has come before.

However, these youth cultures have seemingly gone from the “playground” (her term) to the internet. Many would predict this would create a global community. But

What is most surprising about the findings of the research in this field is that, despite the much-hyped global network, there is very little evidence for a common global youth culture. Boyd argues that the way media is used by kids actually reinforces local connections. “Most young people interact with people they know in their everyday environments,” she says.

This is, of course, at least partly due to the idea that Code is Law – that programmers, rather than users (as advertised) of the most popular websites define how we use the web. Thus, the filter bubble. One has to be conscious, rather than passive, of their use of the net to create the global imagined community. The current tradition of how social interaction online is programmed is seemingly reinforcing the local rather than creating the global imagined community.

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