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Musical Navigation: Cultural Hybridity and Indigeneity among Islands of the Ryukyus and Taiwan

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Title:Musical Navigation: Cultural Hybridity and Indigeneity among Islands of the Ryukyus and Taiwan
Authors:Kuan, Yuan-Yu
Contributors:Lau, Frederick C. (advisor)
Music (department)
Asian studies
Cultural anthropology
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Date Issued:2019
Publisher:University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa
Abstract:Divided by Chinese and Japanese political boundaries, the islanders of Taiwan and the Ryukyus must negotiate their cultural values not only with the East Asian hegemons but also with American militaristic penetration. The consequences are twofold: the construction of an idealized ethnic identity and a hybridization of their cultural practices. Most official narratives about their musics and performing arts have primarily been constructed, classified, and defined via East Asian hegemonic political agendas and national borders, thereby disregarding indigenous narratives which include the existence of established circuits between these island groups.
This study highlights indigenous and Austronesian sensibilities, exploring musical and historical interconnectedness among these islands on the East China Sea/West Pacific Ocean. Taking into account the increased claims of indigeneity in East Asia, I focus on agency and migration as analytical frames to examine music-making processes among regional island musicians. Based on extensive ethnographic and archival research, I interrogate processes of colonialism, militarization, and globalization as they relate to contemporary soundscapes within these island groups, problematizing the notion of musical hybridization and traditional/modern polarities.
Using oceanic metaphors such as navigation, pathway, and waves as lenses, I identify the characteristics of musical mixing and coalition formation between Taiwanese and Okinawan musicians, offering an approach to understanding so-labeled “hybrid” contemporary island cultures. Rather than glossing hybridized music as postmodern under a single global category, ethnomusicologists might better engage the notion of the postmodern relative to a specific indigenous musical and historical context. I regard musical mixing in the region as a creative process of making indigenous hybridity. Hybrid music here is indigenously-inspired pragmatism that embodies the flexibility and performativity of subaltern identity as it co-exists and negotiates within and against local, regional, national, and international hegemonic structures of power and control—decentering the present imposed narratives about Okinawa and Taiwan while offering a futurity that expands what it means to be indigenous in East Asia.
Pages/Duration:221 pages
Rights:All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.
Appears in Collections: Ph.D. - Music

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