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Wang Luobin: Folk Song King of the Northwest or Song Thief? Copyright, Representation, and Chinese Folk Songs

Rachel Harris
Modern China
Vol. 31, No. 3 (Jul., 2005), pp. 381-408
Published by: Sage Publications, Inc.
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/20062615
Page Count: 28
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Wang Luobin: Folk Song King of the Northwest or Song Thief? Copyright, Representation, and Chinese Folk Songs
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Abstract

This article discusses the controversy surrounding the feted twentieth-century Chinese composer and folk song collector Wang Luobin. Wang's relationship with the peoples and music of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region illuminates several aspects of Han-minority relations, in particular the consumption of Otherness and the contesting of identities. The controversy also illuminates problems surrounding the transformation of traditional or folk music into a tangible commodity: problems of ownership and authenticity, in particular legal issues of copyright (who has the right to profit) and more emotive issues of moral authority (who has the right to represent). These issues have recently come to the fore in China as it undergoes its uneasy transformation into a socialist market economy, and they have special ramifications because of the state's extensive and ongoing manipulation of folk music for political ends.

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