Claiming Diaspora: Music, Transnationalism, and Cultural Politics in Asian/Chinese America

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Framed by a century and a half of racialized Chinese American musical experiences, Claiming Diaspora explores the thriving contemporary musical culture of Asian/Chinese America. Ranging from traditional operas to modern instrumental music, from ethnic media networks to popular music, from Asian American jazz to the work of recent avant-garde composers, author Su Zheng reveals the rich and diverse musical activities among Chinese Americans and tells of the struggles of Chinese Americans to gain a foothold in the American cultural terrain. She not only tells their stories, but also examines the dynamics of the diasporic connections of this musical culture, revealing how Chinese American musical activities both reflect and contribute to local, national, and transnational cultural politics, and challenging us to take a fresh look at the increasingly plural and complex nature of American cultural identity.

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"Su Zheng is an engaged musician / scholar in dialogue with the negotiated musics in Asian / Chinese America. She has lived and researched a range of genres and writes with deep knowledge of diasporic cultural practices. This is a sophisticated, important study full of local resonances and of transnational scales."—John Kuo Wei Tchen, New York University & Museum of Chinese in America

"From traditional Chinese music to contemporary jazz, Su Zheng moves seamlessly from the 19th to the 21st century to demonstrate that music is a powerful and vital cultural expression of the Asian/Chinese American disapora."—K. Scott Wong, Williams College

"Zheng's insightful and well-articulated work is firmly grounded in anthropological and ethnomusicological research, and proves to be an indispensable source for anyone in the field of Asian studies, as well as anyone interested in diasporic issues concerning Chinese American culture and music."—Notes

"Claiming Diaspora is an important contribution to the growing body of work examining the musical activities of Asian Americans...The excellent historical information and rich and moving ethnographic interviews will certainly please anyone interested in the struggles, triumphs, and sorrows of Chinese American musicians, but the critical advancement of the concept of diaspora strikes me as a crowning achievement."—Journal of the Society for American Music

"Provides numerous informative, thoughtful, and refreshing insights by analyzing Chinese American history and its musical culture in terms of diaspora and transnational connections. I would recommend the book to anyone who is interested in studying the issues of Chinese American identity, Chinese music, Chinese diaspora, or more generally diaspora, transnationalism and cultural identity." —World of Music

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780199873593
  • Publisher: Oxford University Press, USA
  • Publication date: 11/1/2011
  • Series: American Musicspheres Series
  • Pages: 448
  • Product dimensions: 6.10 (w) x 9.20 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Su Zheng is Associate Professor and Chair of Music, as well as Associate Professor of East Asian Studies, at Wesleyan University. She is also a Visiting Professor at the Shanghai Conservatory of Music, China.

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Table of Contents

Musical Examples
Technical Notes

1. Introduction
2. The Formation of a Diasporic Musical Culture as a Site of Contradiction
3. New York and the Transpacific Routes: Music in the Racialized History of Chinese American
4. Music Here and Now: A Diasporic Soundscape in a Global City
5. From Private Realm to Public Display of Multiculturalism: Mapping the Local Geocultural
Processes of Music Production, Consumption, and (Re)Presentations
6. "Our Goal Is to Be in Sync with Other Areas of the World": Transnational Media Culture and
Popular Music
7. The Poetics and Politics of Displacement: Portraits of Seven Immigrant Musicians
8. The Ambiguities of Cultural Politics in Asian/Chinese American Music Discourse


Appendix I. Chinese American Musical Groups in the New York/New Jersey/Greater New
York Metropolitan Area
Appendix II. Sheung Chi Ng's Taishan Muyu Song Repertories
Appendix III. Complete Chinese Texts of Poems and Lyrics Cited



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