Outlaw Bikers Between Identity Politics and Civil Rights

  • Tereza Kuldova
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Risk, Crime and Society book series (PSRCS)


Today, club logos and important insignia of international outlaw motorcycle clubs are trademarked, following the early example of the Hells Angels Motorcycle Club that first patented their ‘death head’ logo in 1972. Club logos, worn exclusively by full-patched members, are considered sacred and protected as such, both legally and extra-legally. The symbolically central, albeit economically marginal, legal actions against infringers point us toward the uncanny overlaps between a ‘counterculture’ and a ‘brand,’ a phenomenon common in Western culture at large. Departing from this overlap between the ‘sacred culture’ and the ‘brand’ and moving toward the outlaw bikers’ fight for civil rights, the chapter analyzes these attempts at scheming legality and resisting criminalization, reading them through the lens of the tension between identity politics and politics of universalism, showing that even the outlaw bikers shoot themselves in the foot if they try to capitalize on the currently popular rhetoric of identity and recognition.


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Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Tereza Kuldova
    • 1
    • 2
  1. 1.University of OsloBlindernNorway
  2. 2.University of ViennaViennaAustria

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