The making of hip hop in late socialism
Sandra Kurfürst (University of Cologne)
Paper short abstract:
In Vietnam, the autonomy of art is determined by state censorship, and market economic forces. The paper zooms in on the modes of production of Vietnamese Hip Hop. It suggests, that the collaboration between artists and the state is characterized by "cooperation without consensus" (Star 1993).
Paper long abstract:
This paper examines the making of Hip Hop in late socialism. In contemporary Vietnam, the autonomy of art is both determined by state censorship, and market economic forces. In fact, the transcultural flows of Hip Hop only entered Vietnam in the 1990s with the country's integration into the global economy. At first, the socialist state critically observed the cultural practices of b-boying and b-girling, making them subject to censorship. However, with its appeal to the crowd, both in the form of entertainment, and as a physical activity, -boying/b-girling has increasingly come to be promoted and supported by the state. State organized battles take place throughout the country, while Hip Hop dance shows are broadcast on national TV with Vietnam's most popular b-boys and b-girls acting as hosts, judges and trainers. What is more, the verbal art of MCing has experienced a semantic shift in Vietnam. First considered as a practice associated with violence mainly practiced by males, MCing is more and more performed by young females, who put their lyrics in conversation with local discourses about society. Against this background, the paper zooms in on the modes of production of Vietnamese Hip Hop, taking into consideration single actors as well as institutions. It suggests, that the collaboration between the Hip Hop communities of practice and the state is characterized by "cooperation without consensus" (Star 1993).
Performing Culture: Art and Performance for Coming to Know and Expressing Knowledge in the Social Sciences