Modernization and music in contemporary China : crisis, identity, and the politics of style

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1992

Authors

Brace, Timothy Lane, 1951-

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Abstract

The modernization of Chinese culture has been a major feature of domestic policy since the Chinese Communist Party assumed political leadership in 1949. This modernization program has had profound effects upon indigenous musical practices. But the influence is mutual, for music, as a participant in modernization efforts, becomes a location both for legitimating and for subverting governmental policies. The overdetermined process of this dialectic has produced a contemporary cultural crisis: a crisis of national identity. This dissertation draws on ethnography, historical analysis and critical theory in an attempt to understand the concrete configurations of this historically situated crisis in three different cultural domains: Peking Opera, popular music and "serious" music. It will be shown that clashes of hegemonic strategies -- struggles within the relations of power -- are in large part responsible for the crisis, and that these clashes and struggles occur in all three domains studied. However, the specific dynamic of this process differs within each domain. Each of the three central chapters of the dissertation is devoted to an analysis of the crisis in one domain. The final chapter synthesizes the analyses within the context of the Deng regime's goal of socialist construction: a socialism with Chinese characteristics.

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