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Desis doing it like this: diaspora and the spaces of the London urban Asian music scene

Kim, Helen (2011) Desis doing it like this: diaspora and the spaces of the London urban Asian music scene. PhD thesis, The London School of Economics and Political Science (LSE).

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Abstract

My thesis examines the complex, fractured and diverse spaces of Asian cultural production in London, highlighting the immensely creative work in this area of popular music. The creation of these spaces presents new and different ideas about the self, and, furthermore, what it means to be young, Asian cultural producers in Britain and beyond. I conducted 15 months of ethnographic fieldwork in which I collected interviews and engaged in participant observation in London’s various Asian music spaces - primarily at club nights, but also video shoots, album launches and music shows (large and small) throughout the city. Through ethnographic research, this thesis challenges and adds to the existing knowledge of Asian diasporic cultural production in the UK through the investigation of lived experience of diaspora. In stressing the knowledge that arrives out of everyday interactions this thesis seeks to go beyond the textual and theoretical in understanding diasporic music cultures. Furthermore the thesis explores how the everyday strategies produced within this Asian scene present a clear break from simplistic models of resistance that still forms the dominant reading of youth cultures. I argue that cultural production cannot be identified simply as a site for resistance or accommodation, nor are these Asian cultural producers following a strict binary model of authenticity or commodification. The findings suggest that these Asian music spaces are where young Asians actively engage in and create different and alternative ways of being that move away from ‘official’ constructions of Asians available in media and public debates. Moreover, Asian identities that are forged in these Asian music spaces are complex and contradictory, inclusive and exclusive. I argue that the cultural politics within the scene around representation, identity and production rely on both progressive, open, shifting and contingent definitions and boundaries of ethnic identity and forms of belonging while, at the same time, often impose or reinforce closed, exclusive, static and conservative notions of identity, nation, and gender.

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Additional Information: © 2011 Helen Kim
Library of Congress subject classification: H Social Sciences > HM Sociology
Sets: Departments > Sociology
Supervisor: Alexander, Claire
URI: http://etheses.lse.ac.uk/id/eprint/648

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