Call for contributions China Perspectives / Perspectives chinoises


Sinophone Musical Worlds and their Publics


Guest editor: Dr Nathanel Amar, postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities at the University of Hong Kong


Photograph by Elaine Ip for The Week Hong Kong, 2017

Download PDF File here:  Call for abstracts CP China musical worlds

Recent success of Chinese reality television singing competitions broadcasted on national television or streamed directly on the internet, has shown the extent of musical genres represented in the Chinese world, from pop to folk via hip-hop or rock ’n’ roll. The popularity of new musical styles up to then considered as deviant as well as the recent attempts of the State to intervene directly on musical contents, tend to blur the distinctions between “mainstream” (流行) music, “popular” (民间) music as non-official, “underground” (地下) music or even “alternative” (另类) music. This call for papers aims at promoting a better understanding of the transformations of Chinese “musical worlds”, in the sense that Becker gave to “art worlds”, which stresses the role of cooperation and interactions between the different actors of the artistic sphere. As Becker wrote, “all artistic work, like all human activity, involves the joint activity of a number, often a large number, of people. Through their cooperation, the artwork we eventually see or hear comes to be and continues to be. The work always shows signs of that cooperation” (Becker, 2008: 1). We thus welcome contributions which take into consideration the necessary cooperation between individuals, allowing the constitution of musical worlds.

This call for papers wishes to approach the political management of popular music and its paradox. For instance, the Chinese authorities have indeed tried to co-opt marginal or ethnic minorities artists on national television or by producing their albums, such as the nationalist rap collective CD-Rev whose songs are produced by the Youth League, or the Uyghur folk singer Perhat Khaliq, celebrated on the popular TV show “The Voice of China”. However, at the same time, the authorities went after hip-hop culture after the so-called “hip-hop ban” of January 2018, or even imprisoned popular musicians as the “Xinjiang Justin Bieber”, Ablajan Awut Ayup, incarcerated since February 2018. We also welcome contributions which analyze the use of music and music-video by the organs of government propaganda, such as the multiplication of music-videos to promote the “Belt and Road Initiative” – the most recent was made by the People’s Daily using the music of a famous Coca-Cola advertisement of the 70s – or in the recent past to celebrate international events, as the Olympic Games of 2008 or the Shanghai International Expo of 2010.

In this special issue of China Perspectives, we would like to rethink the role of music in Chinese society. If the intervention of the Party-State is essential, it is necessary to raise the question of the public. How and where do people consume music? What is the relationship between music and the construction of subjectivity in contemporary China? We invite submissions focusing on the public and spaces of popular music and the meanings the audience gives to the activity of listening to music; we thus strongly encourage submissions which use an ethnographic approach. The papers can focus on precise case studies, for instance Karaoke consumption (Fung, 2010), dancing and singing in public spaces, or the transformation of popular opera.

This special issue will also represent an opportunity to analyze Chinese musical worlds beyond the national boundary of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) by considering the relations and influences of other parts of the sinophone world, such as Taiwan and Hong Kong, without forgetting the territories at the margins of the PRC like Xinjiang, Tibet or Inner Mongolia. The use of the term “sinophone”, as coined by Shu-mei Shih, allows us to investigate musical worlds outside the national territory of the PRC, but also the cultures of “minority peoples who have acquired or are forced to acquire the standard Sinitic languages of Mandarin, often at the expense of their native language” (Shu, 2013: 3) residing on Chinese soil.

We welcome contributions from any discipline focusing on popular music and encourage the inclusion of visual material. We are also open to non-academic papers as scene reports or photographic reports.

We welcome proposals, but by no means exclusively, exploring the following topics:

  • Opposition and crossing from the underground to the mainstream
  • Listening, dancing and singing together in contemporary China
  • Political uses of popular music
  • Music and the construction of identities
  • Musical influences and local adaptations
  • Music, the public sphere and uses of the past
  • Metamorphosis, structures and actors of the Chinese musical industry
  • Censorship and its circumvention, uses of propaganda
  • Music medium (radio, TV, internet, magazines, music schools)


For those who are interested, please send abstracts (between 300 and 500 words) to Nathanel Amar <namar@hku.hk> before 31 October 2018.


Format of abstracts and articles

Abstracts (written in English or in French) should be 300-500 words long, submitted by 31 October 2018.

Research articles (written in English or in French) should be 8,000 words long, and follow the format of articles guidelines available here. They will follow a double blind academic peer-review process.

“Current Affairs” articles, based on the latest developments in the Chinese music scenes, should be 4,000 words long.

Schedule of publication: full articles should be submitted by 15 February 2019 for publication of the special issue in the winter 2019.


About the journal China Perspectives / Perspectives chinoises

China Perspectives / Perspectives chinoises is an interdisciplinary academic journal, established in 1995, which focuses on the political, social, economic and cultural evolutions of contemporary China (PRC, Hong Kong, Macao, and Taiwan). It is endowed with an Editorial Board of internationally recognized experts in all areas of the social sciences; All submissions are blindly reviewed by two anonymous external referees; Indexed in the Emerging Sources Citation Index (Web of Science); Indexed in 8 international databases (including SCOPUS); Ranked by the French Council for the Evaluation of Research (HCERES) in Political Science, Sociology/demography and Anthropology.


BARANOVITCH Nimrod, China′s New Voices. Popular Music, Ethnicity, Gender, & Politics, 1978 – 1997, University of California Press, 2003.

BARME Geremie, Seeds of Fire: Chinese Voices of Conscience, Hill and Wang.

BECKER Howard, Art Worlds, University of California Press, 2008.

CHU Yiu-Wai, Hong Kong Cantopop: A Concise History, HKU Press, 2017.

CONDRY Ian, Hip-hop Japan. Rap and the paths of cultural globalization, Duke University Press, 2006.

DE KLOET Jeroen, China with a Cut. Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music, Amsterdam University Press, 2010.

DE KLOET Jeroen, CHOW Yiu Fai, Sonic Multiplicities. Hong Kong Pop and the Global Circulation of Sound and Image, Intellect, 2013.

FUNG Anthony, “Consuming Karaoke in China. Modernities and Cultural Contradiction”, in Chinese Sociology and Anthropology, Vol. 42, no. 2, 2010, pp. 39-55.

HALL Stuart, JEFFERSON Tony (eds.), Resistance Through Rituals. Youth Subcultures in Post-War Britain, Routledge, 2006.

HARRIS Rachel, “Reggae on the Silk Road: The Globalization of Uyghur Pop” in The China Quarterly, No. 183, 2005-2, pp. 627- 643.

HEBDIGE Dick, Subcultures. The Meaning of Style, Routledge, 1979.

JONES, Andrew F. Like a Knife. Ideology and Genre In Contemporary Chinese Popular Music. Cornell East Asia Series, 1997.

LINK Perry and MADSEN Richard P. (eds.), Unofficial China: Popular Culture and Thoughts in the People’s Republic, Westview Press, 1990.

LINK Perry and MADSEN Richard P. (eds.), Popular China. Unofficial Culture in a Globalizing Society, Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.

SHIH Shu-mei, Visuality and Identity. Sinophone Articulations Across the Pacific, University of California Press, 2007.

SHIH Shu-mei (ed.), Sinophone Studies. A Critical Reader, Columbia University Press, 2013.

WONG Chuen-Fung, “Singing Muqam in Uyghur Pop: Minority Modernity and Popular Music in China” in Popular Music and Society, Vol. 36, n°1, 2013, pp. 98-118.


[Review] Hong Kong Cantopop: A Concise History (Yiu Wai Chu) by Nathanel Amar



Hong Kong, Hong Kong University Press, 2017, 256 pp.

Review by Nathanel Amar

Yiu-Wai Chu, director of the Hong Kong Studies Program at the University of Hong Kong, continues in Hong Kong Cantopop: A Concise History the analyses he outlined in his previous book, published in 2013, Lost In Transition: Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China.[1] Like Lost In Transition, this book is haunted by the decline of Hong Kong culture since the handover, and by the spectre of mainland China. By offering a chronological history of Hong Kong popular music, Yiu-Wai Chu’s book emerges as a reference in Asian Cultural Studies in English.

The introduction (pp. 1-20) reviews the notion of “Cantopop,” a term that emerged in the late 1970s to describe popular music in Cantonese produced in Hong Kong. For the author, Cantopop lies at the intersection of the two traditional definitions of pop music, as it is both “the main commercially produced and marketed musical genre” (p. 3) and popular in the sense that it is “capable of uniting a variety of social groups” (p. 4). This fairly wide definition of pop allows Chu to not contrast Cantopop too strongly with rock and alternative music—which are present at the margins throughout the book. The author justifies his focus on Cantopop in view of the limited existing English language studies on Hong Kong folk music: “Academic work on Chinese popular music shows a bias toward rock music from Beijing rather than pop music from either Hong Kong or Taiwan” (p. 10). The present work is thus an introduction to Cantopop. This leads the author to leave aside the study of the lyrics of songs, which, while regrettable, is justified by the global economy of the book.

The second part of the book (pp. 21-39) challenges the representations traditionally associated with Cantopop, by making a genealogy of it even before the appearance of the term. Until 1974, Cantopop was marginalised in the colonial society of Hong Kong, with music and the Cantonese language being perceived as inferior to English and Mandarin. Popular music in Cantonese was thus considered a “working-class pastime” (p. 21), which most often dealt with the difficulties of daily life during colonisation.

The rise of Cantopop in the 1970s is the subject of the book’s third part (pp. 40-68), concomitant with the identity and social claims born of the workers’ revolts of 1967 and the extension of the market in the 1970s. The year 1974 marks a turning point in the history of Cantopop, with the broadcast on TVB (Television Broadcasts Limited) of the series A Love Tale between Tears and Smiles, the Cantonese theme song of which was hugely successful. The author shows the close links between Cantopop and other cultural forms, such as television and cinema. The 1970s saw the emergence of many singers and lyricists who made it possible for Cantopop to develop, such as Sam Hui, “the God of Cantopop” (p. 48), who took up social problems in songs using vernacular language. Composer Joseph Koo and lyricist James Wong also participated in the popularisation of Cantopop through their songs for the television series Jade Theater. James Wong, nicknamed “the Godfather of Cantopop,” was also to make Cantopop the subject of his thesis, defended in 2003 at the University of Hong Kong,[2] and which serves as a reference throughout Yiu-Wai Chu’s book. The popularity of Cantopop pushed the music industry in Hong Kong to turn to Cantonese. Singers who hitherto sang in Mandarin or made covers of English hits began producing songs in Cantonese, giving Cantopop the hybrid aspect that would make it successful.

The 1980s, described in the fourth part, represent the golden age of Cantopop (pp. 69-104), as well as its cultural hegemony on the Asian scene during the period of economic reforms in mainland China. The popularity of the song “The Bund,” from the eponymous television series, sung in 1980 by Frances Yip with music by Joseph Koo and lyrics by James Wong, went well beyond the borders of Hong Kong and was even translated into Mandarin and Thai. During this decade, the first “superstars” appeared, such as Alan Tam, Leslie Cheung, and Anita Mui, who initiated a wave of unprecedented concerts. More than mere commercial events, these concerts “became a venue for building a collective memory for Hong Kong people” (p. 84). It is also the period when a limited but very influential Cantonese alternative music scene developed, including the rock bands Beyond and Tat Ming Pair, whose songs contain subversive political messages. The Tiananmen Square massacre in 1989 profoundly marked Cantopop, prompting singers, even the most popular ones, to pose the question of the future of China and Hong Kong in their songs.

The fifth part of the book focuses on the 1990s (pp. 105-144), in which the decline of Cantopop began, although it enjoyed a prosperous period at the beginning of the decade with the “Four Heavenly Kings”—Andy Lau, Jacky Cheung, Leon Lai, and Aaron Kwok, and the “Four Heavenly Queens”—Sally Yeh, Cass Phang, Sammy Cheng, and Kelly Chen. These singers were to dominate the Asian musical and visual scene in the 1990s, but this was not enough to stop the more general decline of Cantopop in the face of the development of Mandapop—popular music in Mandarin—from Mainland China and Taiwan. This shift is illustrated by the journey of the singer Faye Wong, born in Beijing, who became famous after settling in Hong Kong in 1987 by singing Cantopop before returning to Mandapop in the late 1990s. The slow decline of Cantopop was accompanied by a crisis of Hong Kong identity as retrocession approached, expressed in 1997 by a song that reeked of nationalism, “Chinese” (“Zhongguo ren”) by Andy Lau, sung in Mandarin.

The last part (pp. 145-183) deals with the Cantopop crisis, which began in the noughts. In addition to declining sales, the world of Cantopop lost two of its most popular representatives in 2003, Leslie Cheung and Anita Mui, while the SARS epidemic hit the Hong Kong economy hard that same year. The promotion of four new Heavenly Kings, Andy Hui, Edmond Leung, Hacken Lee, and Leo Ku, did not enable Cantopop to resist the domination of Mandapop. Cantopop nevertheless followed the evolution of society, and some groups took a stand in support of the Umbrella Movement in 2014, such as Denise Ho, Anthony Yiu-Ming Wong, and Kat Tse, who sang the anthem of the movement, “Raise the Umbrella.” In the midst of an identity crisis, Hong Kongers also turned to other forms of music, such as hip-hop with the collective Lazy Motha Fucka (LMF), while the record labels were no longer investing in new singers, preferring to recycle the old glories of Cantopop.

Yiu-Wai Chu’s book opens new perspectives in Asian cultural studies, including a comparative approach to popular music in mainland China. The author provides some very interesting analyses of the queer genre and the queer imagination of Cantopop, but one is surprised when he states that “Leslie Cheung never openly declared his sexual orientation” (p. 135), nor does he mention TVB’s censorship of homoerotic clips produced by Cheung.[3] Moreover, the scandal provoked in 2008 by the diffusion of pornographic photos taken by the actor Edison Chen in the company of popular Cantopop singers is barely mentioned.[4] The book’s aim to write a history of Cantopop, which undoubtedly fills one of the gaps in Chinese studies, neglects the mainland’s popular music, whether inspired by or critical of Cantopop. The book therefore encourages future research on the relationship between Cantopop and Chinese rock in the 1990s, for example through the concert given in front of 8,000 people by He Yong, Tang Dynasty, Dou Wei, and Zhang Chu on December 17, 1994 in the Hong Kong Coliseum, during which He Yong called the Four Heavenly Kings “clowns” and insulted Cantopop.[5] Similarly, the author’s desire to deal with Hong Kong alternative music at the same time as Cantopop forces him to bring together bands as diverse as the hip-hop collective LMF, the subversive anti-folk group My Little Airport, or the hardcore-punk band King Ly Chee, all of which deserve to be further analysed. Unfortunately, there are typos in the names of some Mainland singers and song titles, as well as repetitions in the body of the text.

Hong Kong Cantopop nevertheless remains an essential book for Asian cultural studies. In addition to a very complete chronology of Cantopop, accompanied by an excellent appendix, Yiu-Wai Chu’s book makes it possible to place Hong Kong pop music in its geopolitical, cultural, and social context. Also to be appreciated is the effort of systematic transcription of the names of singers and songs in Chinese characters. This is an important book for understanding the construction of Hong Kong identity, which more generally enables taking popular music seriously, and deconstructs many prejudices about Cantopop.

Translated by Michael Black.

Nathanel Amar, Ph.D. in Political Science, is currently a postdoctoral fellow at the Society of Fellows in the Humanities of the University of Hong Kong (namar@hku.hk).

[1] Chu Yiu-Wai, Lost in Transition: Hong Kong Culture in the Age of China, Albany, State University of New York Press, 2013.

[2] James Wong, The Rise and Decline of Cantopop: A Study of Hong Kong Popular Music (1949-1997), PhD Thesis, Hong Kong, University of Hong Kong, 2003.

[3] Natalia Sui-hung Chan, “Queering Body and Sexuality: Leslie Cheung’s Gender Representation in Hong Kong Popular Culture,” in Yau Ching (ed.), As Normal As Possible: Negotiating Sexuality and Gender in Mainland China and Hong Kong, Hong Kong, Hong Kong University Press, 2010, p. 147.

[4] It was the subject of a chapter in the book by Jeroen de Kloet and Yiu Fai Chow, Sonic Multiplicities. Hong Kong Pop and the Global Circulation of Sound and Image, Chicago, Intellect, 2013, pp. 81-100.

[5] Mike Levin, “Chinese Pop Music Lovers Show A Taste For Rock,” Billboard, 21 January 1995, p. 45.

China Perspectives


[Book] Hong Kong CantopopA Concise History (香港粵語流行曲簡史) by Yiu-Wai Chu


Hong Kong Cantopop: A Concise History
Yiu-Wai Chu
January 2017
256 pages
6″ x 9″, 5 tables

Cantopop was once the leading pop genre of pan-Chinese popular music around the world. In this pioneering study of Cantopop in English, Yiu-Wai Chu shows how the rise of Cantopop is related to the emergence of a Hong Kong identity and consciousness. Chu charts the fortune of this important genre of twentieth-century Chinese music from its humble, lower-class origins in the 1950s to its rise to a multimillion-dollar business in the mid-1990s. As the voice of Hong Kong, Cantopop has given generations of people born in the city a sense of belonging. It was only in the late 1990s, when transformations in the music industry, and more importantly, changes in the geopolitical situation of Hong Kong, that Cantopop showed signs of decline. As such, Hong Kong Cantopop: A Concise History is not only a brief history of Cantonese pop songs, but also of Hong Kong culture. The book concludes with a chapter on the eclipse of Cantopop by Mandapop (Mandarin popular music), and an analysis of the relevance of Cantopop to Hong Kong people in the age of a dominant China. Drawing extensively from Chinese-language sources, this work is a most informative introduction to Hong Kong popular music studies.

Yiu-Wai Chu is professor and director of the Hong Kong Studies Programme in the School of Modern Languages and Cultures at the University of Hong Kong.

“Few scholars I know of have as thorough a knowledge of Cantopop as Yiu-Wai Chu. The account he provides here—of pop music as a nexus of creative talent, commoditized culture, and geopolitical change—is not only a story about postwar Hong Kong; it is also a resource for understanding the term ‘localism’ in the era of globalization.” —Rey Chow, Duke University

“Yiu-Wai Chu’s book presents a remarkable accomplishment: it is not only the first history of Cantopop published in English; it also manages to interweave the sound of Cantopop with the geopolitical changes taking place in East Asia. Combining a lucid theoretical approach with rich empirical insights, this book will be a milestone in the study of East Asian popular cultures.” —Jeroen de Kloet, University of Amsterdam

[Preview] Chu, Yiu Wai 2017 Hong Kong Cantopop – A Concise History

The 6th IAPMS Conference in Beijing, China, 2018


*** Jun 2, 2018: Program Booklet (ver 1.4) 

*** May 24, 2018: Panel Schedule announced

*** May 24, 2018: Location and Transportation

*** Dec 5, 2018: The deadline for the submission is extended to December 29.


The 6th Inter-Asia Popular Music Studies Conference 2018 in Beijing, China


June 9-10, 2018



Communication University of China

No.1 Ding Fuzhuang East Street, Chaoyang District, Beijing, China 100024



Organized by:

Inter-Asia Popular Music Studies Group (IAPMS Group)

Music and Recording Art College, Faculty of Art, Communication University of China


Keynote speaker:

Keith Negus (Goldsmiths, University of London, UK)



Asia in the Mix: Places, Temporalities and Inter-Asian Entanglements of Popular Music



Ranging from J-pop to Indonesian punk, from Chinese folk to Japanese Enka, from Bollywood songs to Thai heavy metal, music takes multiple forms and identities, allowing for complex negotiations of both time and place. These forms quickly travel, mostly regionally, and in some rare cases also globally. The circulation of sounds changes over time, for example, where in the 1990s Cantopop played an important role regionally, this role has now been taken over by both Mandapop and K-Pop. The sound of Bollywood, on the other hand, continues to fascinate the global imagination. Further down in South-east Asia, Indonesian and Malaysian boy bands merge their Islamic beliefs with the global sound of pop.

Amidst this cacophony of voices, sounds and images, we wonder: what are the sounds of that construct called “Asia”? How do sounds travel regionally, and globally, and why? How comes that certain sounds travel better than others? How does the music industry respond to the changes caused by globalization and digitization? What transnational fancultures do emerge? The entanglements we witness refer not only to place but also to time, for example, folk music often expresses an urban alienation and romanticizes a forgotten past, while other sounds from the past are brought back to life, or reassembled in a quite different form, or come from a different place. The nostalgia of Japanese Enka speaks to the longings of urban youth in Taiwan. And take for example the Chinese band RETROS and their reinterpretation of the 80s sound of Bauhaus from the UK, or a reinterpretation of the Shanghai sound of Zhou Xuan from the 1930s and 1940s in electronic music. At the same time, in India, old Bollywood classics are reworked into club house dance songs. These various music cultures and their social significance cannot be possible without the workings of the music industry, whether on a local, regional or international scale.


This conference aims to bring scholars together that work on the different popular musics of Asia, linking these to negotiations of both place and time, and paying special attention to the entanglements of sound with these two categories.



Please submit an abstract (200-300 words) and short bio (max. 100 words) by 15 29 December 2017 to iapmsconference@gmail.com. For panels, please submit a general panel description of 200-300 words, four abstracts (200-300 words each) and biographies (max. 100 words each). Please use the Proposal Form (right click to download) when submitting your proposal, and use your surname as file name (ex. Chua.doc, Douglas.doc).


Notice of acceptance will be given by 1 February 2018


Registration fee


Waged members: 75 USD

Unwaged/ Students: 50 USD





Journal Support:

Global Media and China


Local committee:

Zhang Qian (Communication University of China)

Zhao Zhi’an (Communication University of China)


Organizing committee:

Yiu Fai Chow (Hong Kong Baptist University, China)

Anthony Fung (Chinese University, Hong Kong/ China)

Kaori Fushiki (Taisho University, Japan)

Jeroen Groenewegen (Independent scholar, China/ the Netherlands)

Tung Hung Ho (Fu-jen Catholic University, Taiwan)

Jeroen de Kloet (University of Amsterdam, the Netherlands/ Beijing Film Academy, China)

Liu Fei (Chinese National Academy of Arts, China)

Yoshitaka Mori (Tokyo University of the Arts, Japan)

Hyunjoon Shin (Sungkonghoe University, Korea)

Jung-yup Lee (University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA)

Wang Qian (Yibin University, China)

Zhang Qian (Communication University of China, China)

[Book Review] Made in Korea: Studies in Popular Music – Motti Regev


Book Review

Made in Korea: Studies in Popular Music

Pages 1-2 | Published online: 10 Jul 2017

A fine addition to the highly recommended series Global Popular Music (edited by Franco Fabbri and Goffredo Plastino), this volume on popular music in Korea (short for South Korea) is as comprehensive as such a book can be. Its sixteen thematic chapters are divided into four sections, devoted to histories, genres, artists, and socio-cultural issues. These are preceded by a short introduction, outlining some basic information about Korean history, aspects of language, and transcription. The book is rounded up by a chapter on the circulation of Korean pop in Asia, and (a permanent feature in the series) a conversation with a prominent musician. In this case it is the late Shin Hae-chul (1968–2014), a major figure in Korean pop-rock music of the 1990s.

Admittedly, I am not an expert on Korean music or culture. For my own work on the globalization of pop-rock music (see Regev) I have consulted several available texts in English (notably Epstein; Howard; Shin; Kim and Shin) that provided intriguing introductions to the complexity and richness of the field of pop-rock in this country. This new book goes several steps further in offering a multifaceted view of major themes and issues in Korean popular music. Three key topics seem to be at the core of any interest in Korean pop-rock. These are the stylistic and socio-cultural evolution of pop-rock music in Korea, and especially its relation to local indigenous traditions; the social and political context of pop-rock music production and consumption, amid the prominent American presence in the country or the authoritarian regimes that were in power until the 1990s; and the phenomenon of K-Pop that swept young people in East Asia and other parts of the world at the turn of the twenty-first century.

Indeed, audiences in other parts of the world became aware of Korean popular music mostly in the wake of K-pop. This major phenomenon is covered here in two chapters. One (by Sun Jung) illuminates the deliberate production of the “wave” as an export project by the cultural industries of Korea, and especially their conscious use of social media. The other (by Dong-Yeun Lee) examines the meaning and role of idols in the context of K-Pop. Combining pop tunes and glamorous images of youth, these cultural products with short life spans are interpreted here as typical of the neo-liberal market.

K-pop and idol culture are, however, but one relatively recent phase in the history of Korean pop-rock. As the thread that runs through this book makes clear, it is a history characterized by a quest for a balance between Western, mostly Anglo-American influences, and traditional or indigenous sounds. Strictly local genres attempt to preserve a musical language of supposedly pure “Korean-ness.” These obviously include folk music and People’s Song (both discussed here in a chapter by Aekyung Park), but also Trot and Ballad, explained and described in a chapter by Yu-Jeong Chang.

Several chapters in the book add up to present a broad picture of the stylistic evolution of pop-rock in Korea, including explorations of typical Korean sounds and the intricate ways in which this has been entangled with changing attitudes of the regime towards popular music. A chapter by Jung-Yup Lee in the History section follows the change in media broadcasting of music from being a state and politically controlled institution to a highly commercialized and diverse mechanism in the 1990s and 2000s. Soojin Kim, in her chapter in the Issues section, completes this aspect by surveying the ambivalence towards popular music in the cultural policies of the regimes through the years.

Chapters in the Artists section fill this institutional context with examinations of three towering figures in the history of Korean pop-rock. Dohee Kwon focuses on Shin Joong Hyun, one of the most influential and prominent rock musicians in the country, and especially on one of his most famous works, “Miin” (1974); Okon Hwang outlines the career of composer and singer Kim Min-ki, whose song “Ach’imisŭl” became an anthem for the anti-dictatorship movement of the 1970s; and Eun-Young Jung discusses the impact of Seo Taiji, whose career was pivotal in introducing hip hop, dance, metal and hard rock to the mainstream of Korean popular music. Additionally, an interesting chapter by Haekyung Um in the Issues section examines changes in the vocal style of Korean singers along history and across styles, and points to the cultural shifts reflected in them.

A review of the stylistic scope and genealogy of Korean pop-rock is provided by Pil Ho Kim in the Genres section. His chapter traces the path of Korean rock from the early Group Sound phenomenon of the 1960s and early 1970s to the most recent indie and alternative bands of the 2000s. His observation about the relation of twenty-first-century indie rockers, who “managed to bring back the old formula of global-local balance with a new twist,” to the history of Korean popular music seems to capture the cultural essence of the story unfolded in this book. He writes, “For example, 3rd Line Butterfly resurrects Kim Hae-song, the jazz genius during the 1930-1940s, by sampling his music in “Kimp”o ssangna’al’ (Double Horn of Kimp’o, 2004). Chang Ki-ha Wa Ŏlgul Tŭl (Chang Kiha and the Faces) . . . makes clever references to Group Sound rock and modern folk of the 1970s.” Kim concludes that “Korean popular music has been around long enough to establish a tradition of its own and to help create new local sound that may well be added to the global repertoire of rock music” (all quotations 80).

Regretfully, language and other cultural aspects hinder fans in other countries from getting acquainted with and enjoying the full range of pop-rock music from Korea. At the scholarly level, however, this book provides an expansive overview, written by an expert team of researchers. This book is certainly not just for scholars of Korean or Asian culture. I think that researchers in popular music, cultural studies, media, and cultural sociology who are interested in the details and intricacies of cultural globalization can find a wealth of information and insights hidden in these pages.

Motti Regev
The Open University of Israel

© 2017 Motti Regev

Works Cited

  • Epstein, Stephen J. “Anarchy in the UK, Solidarity in the ROK: Punk Rock Comes to Korea.” Acta Koreana 3 (2000): 134. Print.
  • Howard, Keith, ed. Korean Pop Music: Riding the WaveFolkestoneGlobal Oriental2006. Print.
  • Kim, Pil Ho, and Hyunjoon Shin. “The Birth of ‘Rok’: Cultural Imperialism, Nationalism, and the Glocalization of Rock Music in South Korea, 1964–1975.” Positions 18 (2010): 199230. Print.


  • Regev, MottiPop-Rock Music: Aesthetic Cosmopolitanism in Late ModernityCambridgePolity2013. Print.
  • Shin, Hyunjoon. “The Success of Hopelessness: The Evolution of Korean Indie Music.” Perfect Beat 12 (2011): 147165. Print.

Vamping the Stage: Female Voices of Asian Modernities – Edited by Andrew N. Weintraub and Bart Barendregt

Vamping the Stage: Female Voices of Asian Modernities

Discussion published by Andrew Weintraub on Wednesday, July 26, 2017
I would like to announce the publication of Vamping the Stage: Female Voices of Asian Modernities, the first book-length study of women, modernity, and popular music in Asia (University of Hawai’i Press, 2017). Consisting of a lengthy introduction and 14 case studies, this edited volume demonstrates how female performers supported, challenged, and transgressed gendered norms in the entertainment industries of China, Japan, India, Indonesia, Iran, Korea, Malaysia, and the Philippines. Placing women’s voices in social and historical contexts, the authors explore salient discourses, representations, meanings, and politics of “voice” in Asian popular music.  Female performers were not merely symbols of times that were rapidly changing. Nor were they simply the personification of global historical changes. Female entertainers, positioned at the margins of intersecting fields of activities, created something hitherto unknown: they were artistic pioneers of new music, new cinema, new forms of dance and theater, and new behavior, lifestyles, and morals. They were active agents in the creation of local performance cultures, of a newly emerging mass culture, and the rise of a region-wide and globally oriented entertainment industry.
Edited by Andrew N. Weintraub and Bart Barendregt
Table of Contents


Re-Vamping Asia: Women, Music, and Modernity in Comparative Perspective

Andrew N. Weintraub and Bart Barendregt


Triumph and Tragedies of the Colonized Voice: Colonial Modernity, Commodification,
and Circulation of Women’s Voices


Acoustic Ladies: Mediating Audiovisual Modernity in Early German and Chinese Talkies

Yiman Wang


On Becoming Nora: Transforming the Voice and Place of the Sing-Song Girl through Zhou Xuan

Yifen Beus


Malay Women Singers of Colonial Malaya: Voicing Alternative Gender Identity and Modernity

Tan Sooi Beng


The “Comfort Women” and the Voices of East Asian Modernity

Joshua D. Pilzer


Modern Stars and Modern Lives: Nation, Memory, and the Politics of Gender


Diva Misora Hibari as Spectacle of Postwar Japan’s Modernity

Christine R. Yano


Titiek Puspa: Gendered Modernity in 1960s and 1970s Indonesian Popular Music

Andrew N. Weintraub


The Remarkable Career of L. R. Eswari

Amanda Weidman


Silenced Voices and Forbidden Modernities: Censorship, Morality, and National Identity


Gendered and Censored Modernity: Two Female Singers and Their Music in South Korea

Soojin Kim


Princess Siti and the Particularities of Post-Islamist Pop

Bart Barendregt


Googoosh’s Voice: An Iranian Icon in Silence and Song

Farzaneh Hemmasi


Body Politics and Discourses of Femininity: Image, Sexuality, and the Body


Enacting Modernity through Voice, Body, and Gender: Filipina Singers from the Close of the Philippine-American War to the Onset of Martial Law (1913–1972)

Ricardo D. Trimillos


Beyond Black and Gray: Portraits and Scenes of Javanese Singer Waldjinah in Indonesian Popular Print Media

Russell P. Skelchy


Mainstreaming Dance Music and Articulating Femininity: South Korean Dance Divas in the 1980s

Hee-sun Kim


The Ideal Idol: Making Music with Hatsune Miku, the “First Sound of the Future” 320

Jennifer Milioto Matsue

For further information:


ISBN: 978-0-8248-6986-1

372 pp.

[Interview] Noriko Manabe – Anger & Resistance

An interview with Manabe Noriko in what probably is the most challenging German music and popular culture magazine, Spex. The current issues’ topic is “anger and resistance” and the interview with Noriko is part of the cover story.

The English version: http://www.spex.de/2017/08/09/anger-resistance-no-11-noriko-manabe-japan-anger-is-an-important-motivator/

A short version in German: Spex: Magazin für Popkultur, No. 375 (July/August 2017), “Schwerpunkt: Wut & Widerstand: Anger Is an Energy.”

The images are from https://twitter.com/nmanabe/status/885484987633606656

Call for Papers – Crossroads in Cultural Studies, 2018

Crossroads in Cultural Studies, 2018

For the first time in its history, Crossroads in Cultural Studiesis coming to Mainland China. Hosted by Shanghai University, the 12th Crossroads in Cultural Studies will be held in Shanghai, from August 12th to 15th 2018 , prior to the date there will be a one day pre-conference for graduate students on August 11th. Scholars from around the world will come together in the beautiful summertime to engage with the past, present and future of cultural studies scholarship.

Keynote Speakers: Stay tuned for the announcement of more speakers!

The Crossroads in Cultural Studies Conference has played an important role in the creation of a global discussion of Cultural Studies. It has become a major international conference where scholars from all five continents gather regularly to exchange research, views, and insights. Organized by the Association for Cultural Studies (ACS), the Crossroads conference is held every other year in different parts of the world. Previous conferences have taken place in Sydney(Australia), Birmingham (United Kingdom), Urbana-Champaign (USA), Istanbul (Turkey), Kingston (Jamaica), Hong Kong (China), Paris (France), and Tampere (Finland).

A day-long postgraduate/graduate research student conference will precede the main conference on August 11th.

  • Submit your proposal before 24:00, Nov. 30th, 2017(Beijing time). The call for both pre-organized panel and paper proposals (for both main conference and pre-conference) is now open.Submission guidelines and forms can be accessed here.
  • Information on registration and accommodation will follow soon, along with confirmed speakers.
  • Spread the news! Please share this page with your colleagues and friends – we look forward to seeing you in Shanghai in the summer of 2018!
Suggested Topics for Crossroads 2018 Shanghai:

The conference is open to all topics relevant to cultural studies. Here are some suggested topics as food for thought, drawing on the work of our invited keynote, plenary and spotlight speakers, and on more general themes in cultural studies research. However, all contemporary cultural studies research is welcome at this conference:

  • Relationships between the urban and the rural
  • Political/cultural unconscious of the youth
  • Ideas and practices for the alternative
  • Knowledge production and its transformation
  • Rethinking university and the academic community
  • Return to the communities
  • Human/non-human relations
  • Working class and the intellectual proletariat
  • Green culture/economy
  • Gender identity
  • Creative industry and cultural economy
  • Labour right and robot
  • Political and technical dimensions of “post-truth”
  • Practices of space
  • Food sovereignty, safety and quality
  • Redefinition of economy
  • Cultural citizenship
  • New media and new politics
  • Law and everyday-life rationality
  • Immaterial labour and intellectual property
  • Rethinking time in the digital era
  • Regional cultural traditions and global mainstream culture
  • Borders and mobilities

“From Handover to Leftover: Tatming, Umbrellas, and the Postcolonial Ruins of Hong Kong”, Situations [10.1 (2017): 119–145] – Leonie Schmidt, Yiu Fai Chow, and Jeroen de Kloet

Leonie Schmidt, Yiu Fai Chow, and Jeroen de Kloet ,From Handover to Leftover: Tatming, Umbrellas, and the Postcolonial Ruins of Hong Kong, Situations [10.1 (2017): 119–145].

Downloadable at:

Click to access From-Handover-to-Leftover_Tatming-Umbrellas-and-the-Postcolonial-Ruins-of-Hong-Kong.pdf