This article sets out key findings of an interdisciplinary Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) funded project that uses Long Live Southbank’s (LLSB) successful campaign to retain London’s Southbank Undercroft for subcultural use – skateboarding, BMXing, graffiti art etc – as a case study to generate discussions about young people’s experiences and engagements with (sub)cultural heritage and political activism. At the heart of this inquiry is the perceived contradiction between the communicative practices of subcultures and social protest movements: the former typically understood to be internally-oriented and marked by strong boundary maintenance, and the latter, to be successful, to be externally-oriented to a diverse range of publics. In explaining the skaters/campaigners negotiation of this contradiction, we look to the inclusive and everyday concepts of ‘inhabitant knowledge’ (Ingold 2000), ‘vernacular creativity’ (Burgess 2009) and ‘affective intelligence’ (Van Zoonen, 2004). In eschewing the exclusionary and contestatory language of (post)subcultural and spatial theories, this article proposes new frameworks for thinking about the political nature of young people’s bodily knowledge and experiences, and the implications of this for the communication of (sub)cultural value.
- subculture; skateboarding; activism; heritage; youth; South Bank