UKCHA Report - Min-Erh Wang

My ongoing project is related to the reception histories of Pablo Casals (1876-1973) in the Sinophone world within the global Cold War context. Pablo Casals, one of the most highly regarded European musicians of the 20th century, is renowned in the Sinophone world even though he never performed a concert in Taiwan, Hong Kong, or China. Curiously, however, the perception of Casals has arisen as a result of circumstances connected to the Cold War and to the conflicting political ideologies across the Taiwan Strait between communist China and US-supported Taiwan. In Taiwan, Casals’ extra-musical contributions were deemed to be ‘anti-communist’ in nature, whereas in Mainland China he was regarded as a ‘people’s musician’ and likened to the novelist Lu Xun, a leftist icon in the early twentieth century.


In addition to Taiwan and China, Hong Kong played a crucial role in East Asian Cold War politics. Yet, as part of my research, I have not acquired enough materials from Hong Kong. Hence, the main aim of this trip is to clarify how Casals’ legacies were understood in Hong Kong during the Cold War period by collecting primary sources related to him, such as magazine articles and newspapers written in Mandarin Chinese and published in Hong Kong.


During my stay in Hong Kong, I worked mainly in the library of Chinese University of Hong Kong and the Hong Kong Central Library. In the library of CUHK, I found several key magazine articles of Casals, including an obituary in 1973. While in the Hong Kong Central Library, I got several books focusing on the political power behind the publishing industry in the Cold War Hong Kong. By including these materials from Hong Kong in my project, a more comprehensive narrative of Casals’ reception in the Sinophone world can be established.


Furthermore, the visit enables me to discuss my work with colleagues at the Chinese University of Hong Kong, and to explore wider shared points of scholarly interest and research. During my stay, I met my inviter, Prof Wai-Ling Cheong, and had a very enjoyable chat. She gave me her insightful observations of the society and politics in Hong Kong, which is inspiring to me to elaborate an explanatory framework to analysis the materials collected in Hong Kong.     


Based on the materials from this archival research in Hong Kong, there are three goals I would like to achieve. In the short term, I am forming a research panel, titled ‘Cold War and Global Music History: Nationalism, Ideologies, and Knowledge Production,’ aiming for the conference held by the International Musicological Society Regional Association for East Asia (IMSEA). The medium-term goal is submitting a journal article related to the Casals’ reception histories in the Sinophone world. Last but not the least, the long-term goal is to finish my doctoral thesis and establish a more comprehensive narrative to criticize the Cold War ideologies hidden in the process of knowledge production through musicological study.


Min-Erh Wang
January 2019


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