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Dance of Life

Popular Music and Politics in Southeast Asia

Craig A. Lockard

Publication Year: 1998

The rock era is over, according to one pop music expert. Another laments that rock music is "metamorphosed into the musical wallpaper of ten thousand lifts, hotel foyers, shopping centers, airport lounges, and television advertisements that await us in the 1990s." Whatever its current role and significance in Anglo-American society, popular music has been and remains a tremendous social and cultural force in many parts of the world. This book explores the connections between popular music genres and politics in Southeast Asia, with particular emphasis on Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, and Singapore.

Published by: University of Hawai'i Press

Title Page

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pp. v-viii

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pp. ix-xxii

This book explores the connection between popular music and politics in Southeast Asia over the past five decades, with particular emphasis on Indonesia, the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia/Singapore. An examination of Southeast Asia constitutes part of a larger analysis of the relationship between popular music and politics throughout what is often rather imprecisely...

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1. Popular Culture and Music in the Modern World

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pp. 1-53

The literature on popular musics has grown enormously in recent years. This is true for North America and Europe, of course, but also for Africa, the Caribbean, parts of Latin America, and China. Perhaps now we are finally beginning to have enough information to assess the broad role of popular music in various Southeast Asian nations, including...

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2. Indonesia: Many Fields, Many Songs

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pp. 54-113

Popular music has become in recent decades a central feature of culture and daily life in Indonesia. Two experts describe the situation in the 1980s: Today, at any hour, anywhere, we can hear music, played from just one source, or from many sources, as in villages . . . or in shopping centers, or cassette shops. . . . Music can be heard in so many forms . . . in the mountains, fishing villages . . . prisons. . . . Pop music in particular...

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3. Philippines: Pinoy, Protest, and People Power

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pp. 114-161

Few societies have been as drenched in music as the Philippines. Pop star Freddie Aguilar describes the ubiquity of singing in his country: It's a part of everyday life. Street vendors sing a song about the excellence of their goods; in the country the people you pass washing in a stream will be singing; a cook in his kitchen, a laundrywoman, they're always...

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4. Thailand: Songs for Life, Songs for Struggle

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pp. 162-206

The rise of politicized popular musics in Thailand is closely tied to the political turbulence of the early and mid-1970s. But the larger context has been a traditionally conservative political and social system that has long failed to deal adequately with socioeconomic, ethnic minority, and regional equity issues. This chapter examines several...

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5. Malaysia and Singapore: Pluralism and Popular Music

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pp. 207-261

Highly politicized or politically engaged music certainly did not emerge in all Southeast Asian societies. Malaysia and Singapore offer some interesting contrasts to the other case studies both in the nature of the popular culture and in the more clearly ethnic-based socioeconomic framework. Hence national unity...

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6. Conclusions

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pp. 262-272

Music of sociopolitical commentary, criticism, and protest has played an important role in the popular culture of many Third World societies over the past several decades, and Southeast Asia is no exception. This was part of the broader process by which the mass media expanded in reach and complexity...


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pp. 273-314


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pp. 315-374


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pp. 375-390

E-ISBN-13: 9780824862114
Print-ISBN-13: 9780824818487

Publication Year: 1998