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Contemporary perspectives on the history of western classical music in China often present a 'clash' between western and Chinese influences. The historical patterns of racialisation, nationalism, and financial imperatives that continue to affect the domestic and international perception of Chinese-heritage western classical music practitioners today seems well documented in existing literatures. However, the use of queer and feminist theories uncovers the forgotten, or at least, undervalued musical practitioners whose legacies live on. In this paper I explain how my matrix of theories challenges prevailing narratives.     

To explore this use of theory, I shall present four 'lenses' of viewing western classical music in China from the mid-nineteenth to early twentieth century. The first being ethnographic perspectives from contemporary Chinese-heritage musicians informing new avenues for retrospective research. Secondly, the legacy of making, breaking and re-making 'binaries' in western classical music making in mainland China. The third, the goal of some nineteenth- and early-twentieth century missionaries to make their Chinese congregations 'sound white'. Finally, the role of tonic sol-fa and Victorian morality in the early Chinese nationalist movement. Together, these case studies present how queer and feminist theories can allow for a more nuanced understanding of the spread of western musical idioms within China and Chinese-heritage communities.

Speaker's bio: Ellan A. Lincoln-Hyde

Ellan A. Lincoln-Hyde is a Lecturer in Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinarity at King’s College London, as well as a multidisciplinary performer and Senior Editor of the SOAS History Blog. Prior to their appointment at King’s College London, a Bloomsbury College doctoral studentship holder, a 2017–2019 Yenching Academy Scholar, and awardee of the Royal Anthropological Institute’s Emslie Horniman Grant. Their doctoral studies examined the dissemination of Western Classical Music in China in the Early Twentieth Century.

At this event

Ellan Lincoln-Hyde - approved 29.11.23

Lecturer in Liberal Arts and Interdisciplinarity

Event details

Saint Davids Room
Strand Campus
Strand, London, WC2R 2LS