Musings on metal and its evolving demography

Metal Fans in Botswana

botswana_04_death-squad1The other night, wifey sent me the following link to the Archaeology and Material Culture blog. The owner, Paul Mullins, is “a historical archaeologist who studies consumer culture in the last half-millennium.” I like the work he’s doing. Last January, he wrote a piece centered on the attire of metalheads in Botswana. He references the photos and work of Frank Marshall, a South African photographer who has apparently been photo-documenting African metalheads from various sub-genres. There are apparently a lot of Iron Maiden fans. Their garb is interesting. Its what I’d expect when looking at 1980’s post-apocalyptic anime like Fist of the North Star, but with cowboy hats. Women are included as well, although I have no idea what the ratio of male-to-female fans is. Take a look for yourself:

botswana_steel-panther1I find this utterly fascinating. I’m used to how other American metalheads dress at shows – even though it differs a little from region-to-region in the States and from group-to-group (like how black metallers and death metallers dress a bit differently, and how adding in something like Spanish descent also affects how people dress). Everyone has seen how various Europeans dress and how different subcultures affect attire (whether jewelry is worn, whether leather or denim is preferred, corpse paint etc.) and I’ve even seen how crazy some Japanese fans get with it, which has got to be related to cosplaying somehow. I’ve never really seen how Africans who are actually from the sub-continent dress, and its completely different from blacks here in NYC. I kind of like it though. Its very distinctive, albeit a bit retro… not that I’m much of a fashionista. I just wear jeans and a band shirt most days. And on many, I avoid the pants (or trousers, if you want to be proper about it).

Here are some related pages with more info – most of them reference Frank Marshall’s work. It was apparently his photography thesis work, and he was struck by the sharp contrast of Botswanan metalheads, who are primarily black, and South African metalheads, who are mainly white.

A catalogue of Marshall’s exhibition work can be downloaded in PDF from here. It includes a nice intro/writeup and names for each image.

And, finally, here’s a link to the Facebook page for Overthrust, an old-school death metal band from Ghanzi, Botswana.


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