“The voice of the street”: “Street” self, “street” spirit and women’s performativities in hip hop


Natalia Koutsougera




The notion of the “street” as indigenous concept, media, art and scientific product has diachronically been related with the adoption of the values and practices of underprivileged groups who claim visibility in public space. Today, the so called “street cultures”, are witnessing a spectacular rise and expansion due to their global diffusion through media and cultural industry as well as the massive recreational and political engagement of youth groups with them. Street cultures are moving through commercial, non commercial and anti-commercial frameworks and narratives, along with contemporary trends and values such as the return to rawness, “real” experience, “pure” feeling and human roots. Far from being just global fashions, they are generated from glocal conditions and states of structural violence, such as crisis, migration, urban estrangement, dispossession and deprivation and are articulated as immediate responses to all these. Furthermore, contemporary street cultures embrace different somatic and artistic expressions like dance, music, painting, extreme sports etc and interweave with transnational global art forms such as hip hop. They constitute to a large extent male-dominated territories which recently women and queer of gender populations are seeking to occupy, either by embodying or reproducing existing male/patriarchal norms or by creating emancipatory zones which destabilize existing gender norms and heteronormativities. This paper, through the lens of cisgender women’s practices in different hip hop ethnographic fields in Greece, seeks to unveil the meanings of “street” subjectivity and “street” spirituality in hip hop as well as the possibilities of women’s performativities in troubling and rupturing heteronormative hip hop.


Dr Natalia Koutsougera is a social anthropologist working at the intersection of anthropology of dance, visual anthropology, gender studies and youth cultures. Her postdoctoral research revolves around hip hop, urban dance scenes and street femininities. She has produced two ethnographic films in Greece entitled Born to Break (2011) and The Girls are Here (2015).