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Youth and Political Music in Taiwan: Resignifying the Nation at Inland Rock and Tshingsan Fest

Abstract

This article uses musical events in Taiwan to examine the changing contestation of Taiwanese politics. It shows how youth activists remake political practices by connecting people to constructions of local culture through musical performances. Whereas civil society and youth participation in Taiwan’s elections have attracted increased scholarly attention, this article focuses on politically charged activities outside election campaigns. The article sources politics in musical practices, highlighting localized reproductions of global genres of popular music and its significance for Taiwanese youth activism. Drawing on historical analyses of the development of Taiwanese music throughout the twentieth century as localizing global influences in the production of indigenized music, the author argues that music has been more than just a communicative medium for contesting establishment politics, because activists use it to resignify sociocultural symbols and practices in productions of Taiwanese identity. The author examines two 2016 music festivals, Inland Rock and Tshingsan Fest, to analyze active constructions of identity and political action through a framework of music as politics. It demonstrates how, by appropriating space and symbols of Nantou County and Monga district for new cultural festivities, activists reterritorialized physical and conceptual terrain to reconnect people to indigenized constructions of Taiwanese identities. Keywords: Taiwan, popular music, politics, youth, identity, activism, music festival, resignification, indigeneity

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