Play China in Europe: The "Chineseness" Constructed by Music

Yudan Chen

While the rise of China makes its economic and political significance perceived clearly by the world, its cultural foreign relations have not attracted equal attention of IR scholars. Among the recent studies from cultural perspectives, most are conducted in a comprehensive way, with little concern of diverse categories of culture. This paper focuses on music, a "universal language", to exam the way that music is used in Sino-European relations. The author reviews three historical periods. The first is from late Qing Dynasty to 1949, the second from 1949 to the early 1980s, and the third the recent three decades (yet to be completed). It reveals what image and images of China are constructed by music to the Europeans, and how this has been done by the Chinese government, official music groups and individual musicians. The author argues that what determine the 'Chineseness' in music are the identity of China and the politics of identity.

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