Uyghur Folk Singing and the Rural Musical Place in Northwest China

  • Chuen-Fung WongEmail author
Part of the Landscapes: the Arts, Aesthetics, and Education book series (LAAE, volume 24)


Senses of loss and nostalgia permeate the contemporary urban folk singing of the Uyghur people, who are Turkic-speaking Muslims in northwest China, often accompanying icons of a dispossessed rural, pre-modern past. Recent studies have looked at the post-1990s genre of “new folk” as an important venue for the performance of ethno-national sentiments through a variety of musico-textual tropes appropriated from traditional genres. The singing of sorrow and grief, some argue, has worked to interrogate the post-1950s official aesthetics of modernist reformism and its celebratory “singing-and-dancing” minority stereotypes. This is complicated simultaneously by a growing interest among middle-class Chinese audience in the imagined authenticity of certain rural minority folk traditions. This essay looks at how sonic, textual, and visual icons of rurality have been evoked in the contemporary Uyghur singing against a multitude of global popular styles to register a subaltern sense of musical modernity.


Uyghur music Chinese minorities Rurality Modernist nationalism Central Asian pop Folk singing 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Music DepartmentMacalester CollegeSaint PaulUSA
  2. 2.Hong KongChina

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