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BY 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter Open Access November 8, 2019

Mapping Critical Anthropocene Discourses in Musical Artefacts: Whiteness, Absence, and the Intersecting “-Cenes” in Prurient’s The History of Aids

  • Peter J. Woods EMAIL logo
From the journal Open Cultural Studies


In critiquing the humanism of the Anthropocene, scholars have proposed multiple “-cenes” of their own (i.e. the Capitalocene, Plantationocene, and Necrocene). However, authors often consider these formations in isolation rather than considering the intersection between them. To address this oversight, I propose the use of musical artefacts as a site of examination as the forces behind these “-cenes” embed traces of themselves into these recordings and performances. Power electronics, a subgenre of noise music, provides an exceptionally fruitful area of research because of its tendency towards disruption as both a musical and ideological gesture. This inclination creates space for artists to evoke non-dominant narratives, allowing for new forms of interaction between “-cenes” to emerge. By way of example, I analyse the album The History of AIDS by power electronics artist Prurient. Utilizing Deleuze and Guattari’s notion of the rhizome as a framework for interaction, the album evokes the sexual and racial politics within the Capitalocene, Necrocene, and Plantationocene, allowing space for audiences to consider all three formations simultaneously. This manoeuvring between various “-cenes” highlights the ways in which music acts as a “-ceneic” meeting ground and implies new directions for research.

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Received: 2019-02-19
Accepted: 2019-09-13
Published Online: 2019-11-08
Published in Print: 2019-01-01

© 2019 Peter J. Woods, published by De Gruyter

This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 Public License.

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