Like many states emerging from oppressive political rule, Taiwan saw a cultural explosion in the late 1980s, when nearly four decades of martial law under the Chinese Nationalist Party ended. As members of a multicultural, multilingual society with a complex history of migration and colonization, Taiwanese people entered this moment of political transformation eager to tell their stories and grapple with their identities. In Renegade Rhymes: Rap Music, Narrative, and Knowledge in Taiwan (U Chicago Press, 2022), ethnomusicologist Meredith Schweig shows how rap music has become a powerful tool in the post-authoritarian period for both exploring and producing new knowledge about the ethnic, cultural, and political history of Taiwan.
Schweig draws on extensive ethnographic fieldwork, taking readers to concert venues, music video sets, scenes of protest, and more to show how early MCs from marginalized ethnic groups infused rap with important aspects of their own local languages, music, and narrative traditions. Aiming their critiques at the educational system and a neoliberal economy, new generations of rappers have used the art form to nurture associational bonds and rehearse rituals of democratic citizenship, making a new kind of sense out of their complicated present.
Meredith Schweig is assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Emory. Her research explores twentieth- and twenty-first-century popular musics of East Asia, with a particular emphasis on narrative, gender, and cultural politics in post-authoritarian Taiwan.
Li-Ping Chen is Postdoctoral Scholar and Teaching Fellow in the East Asian Studies Center at the University of Southern California. Her research interests include literary translingualism, diaspora, and nativism in Sinophone, inter-Asian, and transpacific contexts.
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