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Musical Minorities: The Sounds of Hmong in Northern Vietnam

Lonán Ó Briain

978 0 19062 696 9
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Publication date:
26 April 2018

Short description: 

First comprehensive English-language monograph on an ethnic minority music in mainland Southeast Asia;
In-depth analysis of the circulation of music and sound as initiative of social identities;
Demonstrates how intangible cultural heritage is used to maintain a resilient community identity.

Full description: 

Musical Minorities is the first English-language monograph on the performing arts of an ethnic minority in Vietnam. Living primarily in the northern mountains, the Hmong have strategically maintained their cultural distance from foreign invaders and encroaching state agencies for almost two centuries. They use cultural heritage as a means of maintaining a resilient community identity, one which is malleable to their everyday needs and to negotiations among themselves and with others in the vicinity. Case studies of revolutionary songs, countercultural rock, traditional vocal and instrumental styles, tourist shows, animist and Christian rituals, and light pop from the diaspora illustrate the diversity of their creative outputs.

This groundbreaking study reveals how performing arts shape understandings of ethnicity and nationality in contemporary Vietnam. Based on three years of fieldwork, Lonán Ó Briain traces the circulation of organized sounds that contribute to the adaptive capacities of this diverse social group. In an original investigation of the sonic materialization of social identity, the book outlines the full multiplicity of Hmong music-making through a fascinating account of music, minorities, and the state in a post-socialist context.


Lonán Ó Briain is Assistant Professor and Director of Postgraduate Studies in Music at the University of Nottingham. Previously, he taught at the University of Birmingham and the University of Sheffield. He currently serves as reviews editor for Ethnomusicology Forum and chair of the ICTM Ireland.



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