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Bohemian SouthCreating Countercultures, from Poe to Punk$
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Shawn Chandler Bingham and Lindsey A. Freeman

Print publication date: 2017

Print ISBN-13: 9781469631677

Published to North Carolina Scholarship Online: January 2018

DOI: 10.5149/northcarolina/9781469631677.001.0001

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Liminality and the Search for the New Austin Bohemianism

Liminality and the Search for the New Austin Bohemianism

(p.288) Liminality and the Search for the New Austin Bohemianism
Bohemian South

Joshua Long

University of North Carolina Press

In Austin, Texas—a city celebrated for its ‘weird’ and non-conformist culture—the once accessible enclaves of creative expression are now beyond the reach of its emergent artists while the liminal spaces of Austin’s Bohemian past are becoming increasingly eclipsed by expanding landscapes of affluence and vogue consumerism. This chapter examines the historical evolution of Austin’s emergence as a tolerant space for non-conformity, activism, and Bohemian sensibility in the heart of Texas. Throughout the 1960s and 1970s, Austin was the clear destination for those who had become otherwise ostracized in the surrounding conservative towns and cities. Since the late 1990s, however, a mix of co-option, compromise, and urban governance has removed targets for activism while the Bohemian ghosts of Austin’s past became slowly overshadowed by towering condos of creative workers and pseudo-hipsters. The iconoclast creativity of Austin’s most promising Bohemians has become monetized and marketed as a product whose value far outweighs its producers. Despite these trends, this chapter is not a swan song for Austin Bohemianism. Instead, it suggests that nostalgia, the avant-garde, and artistic activism endure in and around the city, and that against trends toward homogenization and commodification, Austin remains an uncontrived site of Bohemian performance.

Keywords:   Austin, Texas, Bohemia, consumerism, liminality

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