Negotiating Deng Lijun: collective memories of popular music in Asia during the Cold War period
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This study uses the pop music scene as a tool to analyse contemporary cultural history in Asia, with a focus on the cold-war and post-cold war period (1960s-1990s). The primary objective is to present how Pan-Chinese music shaped peoples’ collective memories in Asia and to investigate issues such as cultural history identification, cultural worship, colonisation, nostalgia, and how these influence each other. The secondary objective is to analyse which factors can influence peoples’ collective memories, since similar pop music and historical backgrounds in Asia can be located. A particular focus is Deng Lijun (also known as Teresa Teng) (1964-1995) who is considered the most influential popular singer able to transcend ideological barriers in Asia. Through in-depth interviews carried out in China, Taiwan, Hong Kong and Japan during 2010, audience perceptions focusing on Deng Lijun's personality, music and performances were recorded and analysed in order to create focal points regarding the collective memory of her work. The main interest of this thesis is not only her role as a singer, but also her ability to capture different cultural imaginations, to initiate processes of identification and to transcend different country’s frontiers (Taiwan, China, Hong Kong, South-East Asia and Japan), particularly since these countries champion different ideological perspectives. Her fame and commercial success had a huge cultural impact, and as a result she was the first cultural carrier to break the boundaries of the Cold-War era in Asia. Apart from examining the social, cultural and political factors that influence pop music, the industry behind it and shared audience memories, the focal point of the thesis is to draw attention to aspect of time by examining how the cold war in Asia reconstructed pop music’s cultural symbols and how these symbols were transformed through different ideological structures and facets. Using the information gathered from interviews and archives, this study explores the role of popular music in political struggles between warring ideologies and shows how those struggles both informed and were informed by the sentimental songs of a global popular music idol.