Music between worlds : Mongol music and ethnicity in Inner Mongolia, China

D'Evelyn, Charlotte Alexandra
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
[Honolulu] : [University of Hawaii at Manoa], [May 2013]
The Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR) of China is home to a diverse group of ethnic Mongols who live across the border from the nation of Mongolia, in a division that has existed for almost a century. As Inner Mongols have negotiated their position as ethnic minorities in China and a people between cultural worlds, they have used music to reconcile, and sometimes even celebrate, the complexities of their history and contemporary condition. In this dissertation, I argue that Inner Mongols' contact with a variety of Mongol, Chinese, and Western musical styles has inspired them to take up creative and energetic musical expressions, particularly as they traverse shifting minority politics in China and determine how to represent themselves on national and international stages. The first part of this dissertation traces the work of four musical elites, two Mandarin-language grassland song composers and two reformers of the morin khuur horse-head fiddle, who have been formative in the staging of a unified, orthodox Mengguzu (Mongol ethnic group) representations for the national stage. I demonstrate how these musical leaders adeptly negotiated the communist system in China and became the voices and faces of their Mongols through their musical developments and reforms. The second part of this dissertation highlights new understandings of Mongolness that have emerged in the past decade. I explore Inner Mongol efforts to locate local heritage through the folk fiddle chor, on the one hand, and to forge links with the nation of Mongolia through morin khuur and khoomii styles, on the other. Through these two strategies--looking locally inward and transnationally outward--musicians have reconfigured themselves as Mongol peoples outside orthodox representations of previous decades. Through these case studies, I demonstrate that Mongol individuals in China have occupied a central role in national and transnational discussions about musical Mongolness, cultural development, purity and preservation, and the Mongol past (Humphrey 1992, Marsh 2009). By critically examining instrument reform efforts, compositional fusions, musical discourses, and stage performances in Inner Mongolia, I explore how Mongol individuals have used music as a means to pursue creative artistic careers and, moreover, as a way to creatively invoke and contest musical representations of their ethnicity over the past six decades
Ph.D. University of Hawaii at Manoa 2013.
Includes bibliographical references.
Access Rights
Email if you need this content in ADA-compliant format.