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The Euro-Pagan Scene : between paganism and radical right

Odin_riding_SleipnirPar Stéphane François

Music is a vector for identity. Indeed, music is something entirely social, maintaining complex relationships with the social world. It holds a position that has become central amongst the elements that form our perception of the world, the sense of hearing rivaling more than ever what we see and what we read. The social element is at the heart of the processes of the production and reception of the musical. It determines its developments, functions, and meanings to a great extent. In a continuous mirroring, music reflects and expresses the social space which, in its turn, invests in it, infusing it with new meaning. The musical object, a truly cultural generator of cultural practices, is not something given but something constructed, the product of a “here and now” in which codes, norms, values, and strategies of innovation and copying are tangled together in perpetual construction. Music can also be a method of engagement, at the same time individual (he who listens) and/or collective (those who play)—a medium for resistance to cultural or political domination. 

During the late 1970s and 1980s, there simultaneously appeared “alternative rock,” with a left wing message, and “rock identitaire” (identity rock), with an extreme right wing message, these two genres succeeding the socially active, left wing rock and the rediscovery of local, folk, and ethnic music that occurred during the 1970s. Thus music can be a medium for raising awareness. In fact, it is above all a social indicator, and a generator of political symbols, but also of religious symbols (gospel music) and community symbols (rap, Yiddish music).

The music analyzed here, which we here call “Euro-pagan” music, along with its scene (groups, labels, press, etc.), is a musical and cultural movement little known to the general public. It is an undercurrent of a larger but equally confidential scene: industrial music. The people involved in the diffusion of this scene are relatively few but highly active. This is also a style of music that has become popular and undergone a large expansion. Its themes relate to European paganism and to the history of Europe. The message of this scene evolved at the margins of the extreme revolutionary conservative right. This scene is therefore specific to the themes that power it. The term “Euro-pagan” is not innocent, and was not chosen arbitrarily: it represents what the performers of this music wish to produce: a music that is “typically” European.


Première publication : Stéphane François,  » The Euro-Pagan Scene: Between Paganism and Radical Right »,Journal for the Studies of Radicalism, Vol. 1 n°2, Michigan State University Publishing, pp. 35-54.

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