Publication Date



Open access

Embargo Period


Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Music (MM)


Musicology (Music)

Date of Defense


First Committee Member

Deborah Schwartz-Kates

Second Committee Member

Melvin L. Butler

Third Committee Member

Eduardo Elena


The origins of punk in Argentina grew from a distinctive socio-political context unlike its British and American counterparts. The country's final military dictatorship (1976-1983) was marked by a period of constant violence. After the 1976 coup d'état, a military dictatorship established power, vowing to fix many issues in the country, including the rampant violence and economic crisis that the government inherited from the previous administration of Isabel Perón. Although the military dictatorship intended to address the country's problems, it soon arose as one of the most oppressive regimes in the late 20th century that initiated a repressive movement known as the Guerra Sucia (Dirty War). Numerous individuals were abducted off the streets or from their homes, regardless of their political affiliations. Despite the tight grip the junta imposed on the media, creative artists used their work to protest against the government and decry the human rights violations that occurred within the country. While many popular Argentine musicians hid their anti-junta messages through the use of metaphors and ambiguous lyrics, punk groups conveyed resistance more overtly. This thesis explores the early punk rock scene in Argentina as a form of social protest during the Guerra Sucia. It focuses on two of the most notable bands, Los Violadores and Alerta Roja, who wrote songs that resisted the military dictatorship. Even though they opposed the junta directly, they managed to avoid abduction or arrest. This project explores the use of music as an tool of resistance and offers ideas about how these groups managed to avoid persecution by the military government. In addition, this study reflects a scholarly interest in bringing together ideas and perspectives from the fields of historical musicology and ethnomusicology. It focuses on the punk scene as a whole through multiple perspectives, giving voice to the bottom-up ideas and social practices of punk fans, as well as the top-down creative activity of Argentine musicians. Although limitations of time and resources made it impossible conduct to fieldwork in Argentina, I endeavored whenever possible to collect oral accounts of the punk scene through both interviews and documentary sources. Through this analysis, I examined how the genre conveyed popular opposition to the dictatorship during an era of massive human rights violations and harsh censorship in Argentina. Because both Los Violadores and Alerta Roja continued their careers after the Guerra Sucia ended, I also aim to examine the elements of their music that changed after the 1983 restoration of democracy.


Punk; Argentina; Guerra Sucia; Los Violadores; Alerta Roja; Fanzines