Date of Award

2022

Degree Type

Dissertation

Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)

Graduate Group

Music

First Advisor

Jim Sykes

Abstract

This dissertation studies the intergenerational effects of the Chinese Cultural Revolution and the transnational careers of Chinese musicians born and raised during the one-child policy. Bridging scholarship in ethnomusicology and musicology with work in cultural anthropology, East Asian studies, Asian American studies, and literature studies, I examine the palpable memories and traumas from the Cultural Revolution and show that they continually frame individual and collective engagements with music in the People’s Republic of China and the Chinese diaspora. At the core of this research are extensive multi-sited ethnography conducted in the PRC, Taiwan, Canada, and the United States, and archival sources. Using these interdisciplinary methodologies, I address Chinese music-making practices in relation to personal and familial desires, and national transformations. I argue that although some Chinese musicians have achieved the highest levels of institutional success through conservatory training and international performances, they are continually motivated by anxieties of socio-economic precarity and desires for redress from parents who lost musical ambitions during the Cultural Revolution. As a result, Chinese musicians use what I term “strategic citizenship” to create transnational opportunities and seek stable futures for themselves while navigating neoliberal systems that impact their educational pathways and possibilities for new residency in countries such as Canada and the United States.

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