SOAS University of London

Centre of Taiwan Studies

Polyphonic Adventures in the History of Taiwan Rap: Xiha, Raoshe, Liām-kua

CTS-IMG-Meredith Schweig
Assistant Professor Meredith Schweig

Date: 3 July 2017Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 3 July 2017Time: 5:30 PM

Venue: Russell Square: College Buildings Room: KLT

Type of Event: Summer School

This is part of SOAS Centre of Taiwan Studies Summer School Programme.
To register to attend please click HERE.


The style of popular music referred to in English as “rap” operates by several aliases in Taiwan, lending richness to a discussion of its present life on the island and complexity to the project of determining its origins.  Multivalent and flexible, capable of assuming a variety of identities, the term “rap” means different things to different people.  Taking its cue from the storytelling quality of the music itself, this presentation will draw on long-term ethnographic fieldwork with the rap community to examine the history of rap in Taiwan as a narrative construction, subject to revision and reinterpretation at the hands of multiple authors.  I invoke the narratological notion of “polyphony,” which describes a mode of storytelling characterized by multiple and contradictory points of view, as I tease apart and weave together three distinct historical strands: First, as the “rhapsodizing tongue” (raoshe 饒舌), rap is a musical technique that demands verbal agility of its performers.  Second, as “hip-hop” (xiha 嘻哈), it is an ethos with roots in African American, Afro-diasporic, and Latina/o cultural practices.  And third, as “song reading” [liām-kua 唸歌], it is a species of narrative performance with affinities to local storysinging traditions.

CTS-IMG-Schweig-MC Hotdog


Meredith Schweig completed her MA (2009) and PhD (2013) in ethnomusicology at Harvard University, where she also received her BA (2003) in Music and East Asian Studies. Her research explores twentieth- and twenty-first-century musics of East Asia, with a particular emphasis on popular song, narrativity, and cultural politics in Taiwan and China. An assistant professor of ethnomusicology at Emory, she is currently working on a book about Taiwan's hip-hop scene. A second project in development refracts questions about music, memory, and transmedia storytelling through a study of global pop icon Teresa Teng. She maintains additional research interests in sound studies, sensory studies, translation studies, kinetic sound sculpture, and the museology/musicology nexus.

Schweig was a 2013-2015 Mellon Postdoctoral Fellow in the Humanities and Hyperstudio Fellow at MIT, and has received fellowships and grants from the Asian Cultural Council, Whiting Foundation, Fulbright-Hays, and the Fairbank Center for East Asian Research at Harvard University. She was the recipient of the Lise Waxer Graduate Student Paper Prize (2013) from the Popular Music Section of the Society for Ethnomusicology and the Barbara Barnard Smith Student Paper Prize (2011) from the Association for Chinese Music Research. Her 2014 article "Hoklo Hip-Hop: Re-signifying Rap as Local Narrative Tradition in Taiwan” was awarded the Rulan Chao Pian Publication Prize from the Association for Chinese Music Research.

Organiser: Centre of Taiwan Studies

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