UCLA International Institute
Asia Institute

Advancing collaborative, interdisciplinary research on Asia worldwide

2009 China in Asia Workshop: Asian Musical Crossroads: China and Inner Asia/China and Southeast Asia

This is the third in a series of annual meetings on China in Asia jointly sponsored by the UCLA Asia Institute and the UW East Asia Center with funding from the U.S. Department of Education Title VI program.

University of Washington
October 30-31, 2009


Organized by Helen Rees, Professor of Ethnomusicology, UCLA, and Steven Harrell, Professor of Anthropology, University of Washington

Crossroads of Asian Cultures puts the musical and poetic interactions between Chinese and neighboring cultures on vivid display. An international roster of musicians, musicologists, poets, anthropologists, and literary scholars describes, analyzes, and performs the results of the vibrant artistic interactions at three busy cultural intersections: between Han and Inner- and Southeast-Asian minority peoples within China, across national borders between Chinese and Inner Asian traditions, and between Chinese and Southeast Asian traditions.

For thousands of years, China's borderlands have been the crossroads of Asian cultures. As the Chinese expanded from their original homeland in North China, they encountered myriad groups of mounted nomads, hunter-gatherers, upland farmers, and long-distance merchants. And at various times in Chinese history, parts of China were ruled by conquerors from Inner- and Southeast Asia. The results of these cultural encounters are evident everywhere in architecture, technology, religion, and the arts. Less physically obvious but just as important have been mutual influences in music and the literary arts. This trend of cross-fertilization continues and accelerates today with China's continual opening to the world and with the development of new international media and new travel opportunities. Musicians, artists, architects, poets, novelists and others take advantage of the re-opening of physical and cultural borders to produce new forms, to revitalize old forms with new content, and to participate in the cosmopolitan world of popular culture.

The symposium will explore these cultural encounters in three sessions, each including scholarly analysis combined with performance. On Friday morning, Oct. 30, we explore musical interactions of China and the peoples of the Inner-Asian steppe; on Friday afternoon we present readings and analysis of two important bilingual poets from Tibet and from the Nuosu Yi people of Sichuan. On Saturday morning we explore musical interactions of China and Southeast Asia.

On Friday evening, we are proud to present a concert, Music from Asia’s Crossroads, featuring musical performances from Chi Li (erhu, Chinese two-string fiddle), Hsin-chun Tasaw Lu (Burmese mandolin), Peter Marsh (Mongolian horse-head fiddle), and Helen Rees (dizi and xiao, Chinese flutes).

For further information, please contact eacenter@uw.edu