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Music as Intangible Cultural Heritage: Policy, Ideology, and Practice in the Preservation of East Asian Traditions

Editor: Keith Howard
Author: ,
Publisher: , 2012
Link to online store *

Focussing on music traditions, these essays explore the policy, ideology and practice of preservation and promotion of East Asian intangible cultural heritage. For the first time, Japan, Korea, China and Taiwan – states that were amongst the first to establish legislation and systems for indigenous traditions – are considered together. Calls to preserve the intangible heritage have recently become louder, not least with increasing UNESCO attention. The imperative to preserve is, throughout the region, cast as a way to counter the perceived loss of cultural diversity caused by globalization, modernization, urbanization and the spread of the mass media. Four chapters – one each on China, Korea, Taiwan and Japan – incorporate a foundational overview of preservation policy and practice of musical intangible cultural heritage at the state level. These chapters are complemented by a set of chapters that explore how the practice of policy has impacted on specific musics, from Confucian ritual through Kam big song to the Okinawan sanshin. Each chapter is based on rich ethnographic data collected through extended fieldwork. The team of international contributors give both insider and outsider perspectives as they both account for, and critique, policy, ideology and practice in East Asian music as intangible cultural heritage.

Keith Howard is Professor of Music at the School of Oriental and African Studies, and was formerly Associate Dean, Research, Sydney Conservatorium of Music, University of Sydney, Australia.

Source: publisher’s website


  • Introduction: East Asian music as intangible cultural heritage, Keith Howard;
  • Intangible cultural heritage in China today: policy and practice in the early 21st century, Helen Rees;
  • Ee, mang gay dor ga ey (Hey, why don’t you sing)? Imagining the future for Kam Big Song, Catherine Ingram;
  • Strumming the ‘lost mouth chord’: discourses of preserving the Nuosu-Yi mouth harp, Olivia Kraef;
  • From transformation to preservation: music and multi-ethnic unity on television in China, Lauren Gorfinkel;
  • Authenticity and authority: conflicting agendas in the preservation of music and dance at Korea’s state sacrificial rituals, Keith Howard;
  • A tradition of adaptation: preserving the ritual for Paebaengi, Roald Maliangkay;
  • Lessons from the past: Nanguan/Nanyin and the preservation of intangible cultural heritage in Taiwan, Ying-fen Wang;
  • Dichotomies between ‘classical’ and ‘folk’ in the intangible cultural properties of Japan, Shino Arisawa;
  • Promoting and preserving the Chichibu Night Festival: the impact of cultural policy on the transmission of Japanese folk performing arts, Jane Alaszewska;
  • Whose heritage? Cultural properties legislation and regional identity in Okinawa, Matt Gillan;
  • References;
  • Index.

Entry on here.

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