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  • China with a Cut: Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music by Jeroen de Kloet
  • Luo Ai Mei (bio)
China with a Cut: Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music. Jeroen de Kloet. Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010. 264 pp. ISBN 9789089641625 (paperback), $82.55.

As a prominent contemporary cultural activity with global influences, popular-music production has been a focused scholarly inquiry in music studies since the latter half of the twentieth century. Using an unusual product, the dakou CDs and tapes—the damaged pop-music recordings produced in the West, later recycled, and smuggled into China—as a compass and as a starting point, Jeroen de Kloet's China with a Cut: Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music innovatively guides readers through the seldom-explored cultural map of rock and rock-generated pop productions in China during the 1990s and 2000s. De Kloet questions the common assumption of viewing the 1990s as purely a declining phase of rock culture in China and of holding the stereotyped belief that rock culture in China merely represented and retained the rebellious spirit after the 1980s. By examining the impact of dakou CDs and tapes on Chinese society, de Kloet unveils a complex and continuous process of local-global articulation between China and the world.

In this book, rock is theoretically considered in terms of Arjun Appadurai's notion of "hard cultural form" (Appadurai 1996, 90), and instead of stressing its otherness, de Kloet examines its indigenization process to understand how the Chinese advocated their Chineseness through renewing the aesthetic expressions of rock and thereby generated local discourses, meanings, and values. De Kloet exposes the fallacy of holding binary/opposite parameters (e.g., "literature and pulp," "high and low," 199) in interpreting Chinese rock culture. He examines what he calls the authoritative discourse of the "rock mythology" in the context of popular music that "holds the power to unfold the heteroglossia of everyday life" (200) and through which the Chinese communities search for their Chineseness through the social process of authenticating this music genre. The genres selected to represent the harder rock scenes in Chinese rock culture include underground, punk, heavy metal, and hip-hop.

Discussions on rock localization also extend to several intergenres, or according to de Kloet, the "hyphened scenes" (75–102), such as folk-rock, poprock, and punk-rock, as well as the voices of female musicians and bands outside Beijing. Various perspectives are presented in this book as a way of showing the negotiation of Chineseness: those of the music producers, the consumers, and the rock fans, who express their musical preferences according to their gender, age, location, and social and political views. With ample ethnographic evidence, interview records, and the use of a large number of CD collections as primary sources, de Kloet effectively and vividly reveals the voices of Chinese generations involved in rock localization in the post-1990s [End Page 164] and their self-positioning through participation in building a rock culture outside yet connected to Anglo-American contexts. As stressed by de Kloet, foregrounding "the deparadoxicalising force of the rock mythology is to acknowledge its productive, creative, and generic power on the one hand, and its confining, suppressive, and violent power on the other" (194). Going beyond the traditional approach of viewing rock as a static "mirror of the society" (194), de Kloet focuses on the paradoxes of rock and successfully presents a panorama of rock and rock-related musical scenes as a dynamic and unifying cultural field in China.

An important contribution of this book is the introduction of musical scenes as an analytical framework. De Kloet deduces from the remarks of his interviewees that "rock culture has become increasing fragmented" (40), and the major concerns in music production have moved from stylistic consideration to substantive issues that shape the meanings and values of rock culture in China. This observation leads to an emphasis on music scenes, drawing on Andy Bennett, David Hesmondhalgh, Keith Kahn-Harris, Hilary Pilkington, Richard Johnson, Gerry Stahl, and Will Straw to situate the interpretation of rock construction as a less rigidly classified field and to focus on the signifying moments of rock practices. Infused with landmark concepts from...


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