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Nov 20, 2021 10:00 AM - 11:50 AM(America/Chicago)
20211120T1000 20211120T1150 America/Chicago Circulations and Competitions: New Perspectives on Music and Cold War East Asia

East and Southeast Asia were key sites of the global Cold War. Although the area tended to elude conventional mapping of Eastern and Western blocs, Cold War tensions shaped the geopolitics of the post-1945 world, not least through the two 'hot' wars – Korean (1950-3) and Vietnam (1955-75). These conflicts also forged epistemic structures, which mediated constructions of freedom and authoritarianism, global and local.

The Global East Asian Music Research and Cold War and Music study groups convened a joint panel that represents new research on the Cold War and music in East Asia. The papers examine musical circulations and competitions that were constituted within the dynamics of the global Cold War in East Asia. They not only expand our understanding of Cold War music history but also challenge a historiography of isolation that was itself an internal part of Cold War narratives. This panel takes Cold War East Asia as a vantage point from which to rethink post-1945 era music histories. 

The first presenter explores the transnational exchanges that shaped one of China's classic revolutionary ballets, _The White-Haired Girl_ (Bai mao nü 白毛女). By delving into its transnational entanglements, the author shows how post-War East Asia was imbricated in the global Cold War, while simultaneously destabilizing the ideological blocs produced by the Cold War Three-World model. Our second presenter explores the competition between two Koreas over national authority and ideological superiority while focusing on how international stages of traditional performing arts of both Koreas became vehicles for cultural propaganda. They reveal how internal politics intertwined with global Cold War politics and defined the direction of traditional pe ...

AMS 2021 ams@amsmusicology.org

East and Southeast Asia were key sites of the global Cold War. Although the area tended to elude conventional mapping of Eastern and Western blocs, Cold War tensions shaped the geopolitics of the post-1945 world, not least through the two 'hot' wars – Korean (1950-3) and Vietnam (1955-75). These conflicts also forged epistemic structures, which mediated constructions of freedom and authoritarianism, global and local.


The Global East Asian Music Research and Cold War and Music study groups convened a joint panel that represents new research on the Cold War and music in East Asia. The papers examine musical circulations and competitions that were constituted within the dynamics of the global Cold War in East Asia. They not only expand our understanding of Cold War music history but also challenge a historiography of isolation that was itself an internal part of Cold War narratives. This panel takes Cold War East Asia as a vantage point from which to rethink post-1945 era music histories. 


The first presenter explores the transnational exchanges that shaped one of China's classic revolutionary ballets, _The White-Haired Girl_ (Bai mao nü 白毛女). By delving into its transnational entanglements, the author shows how post-War East Asia was imbricated in the global Cold War, while simultaneously destabilizing the ideological blocs produced by the Cold War Three-World model. Our second presenter explores the competition between two Koreas over national authority and ideological superiority while focusing on how international stages of traditional performing arts of both Koreas became vehicles for cultural propaganda. They reveal how internal politics intertwined with global Cold War politics and defined the direction of traditional performing arts of the Korean peninsula, in opposite ways. The third presenter reconsiders the utility of the work-concept for North Korean revolutionary opera in light of the genre's relationship with the 'immortal classics,' a canon of stories officially credited to Kim Il Sung. They instead consider the 'immortal classics' a broad, intertextual, cross-media assemblage within which revolutionary operas consolidate musical signifiers, and they suggest that this consolidating function undermines the works' status as standalone compositions.

University of Sheffield
University of Chicago
Kookmin University
Eastman School of Music
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