Kaili, the homeland of 100 festivals: Space, music, and sound in a small city

Kendall, P. 2014. Kaili, the homeland of 100 festivals: Space, music, and sound in a small city. PhD thesis University of Westminster Faculty of Social Science and Humanities

TitleKaili, the homeland of 100 festivals: Space, music, and sound in a small city
TypePhD thesis
AuthorsKendall, P.

This thesis examines the production of social space in Kaili, a small city in southwest China, through its branding as “the homeland of one hundred festivals”, inhabitants’ conceptualizations of music, amateur music-making practices, and the construction of the built environment. Drawing on Henri Lefebvre's triad of social space as a basic framework, I explore the complexity of the city through multiple aspects of the relationship between space, music and sound: how the built environment of post-Mao China hinders and hides amateur music, even in a city branded as a place of authentic (yuanshengtai) ethnic folk music; how disparities between the branding and living of Kaili have produced a discourse whereby citizens relocate authentic musical practices to an imagined rural space outside the city; and how amateur musicians have constructed hierarchies of amateur musical space within the city.

This thesis makes a distinctive contribution across a range of disciplinary and theoretical interests: Chinese studies, multi-disciplinary debates about Lefebvre’s spatial theory, and urban studies. For Chinese studies, it gives detailed scrutiny to Lefebvre’s spatial theory in considering the historical and recent formation of urban space in China, and in so doing goes beyond the truism that social space is socially produced. It intervenes in ongoing discussions about Lefebvrian theory outside the
parameters of Chinese studies, by grounding what has been a predominantly abstract discussion in ethnographically and textually-based research. My discussion of city branding and everyday musical activity elaborates Lefebvre’s theory, both modifying and adding to his triad of perceived, conceived and lived space.

YearMay 2014
Publication dates
CompletedMay 2014

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