The Book of Failure

Hong Kong / Shenzhen: Publication Studio Pearl River Delta. Edited with Yiu Fai Chow and Zoénie Liwen Deng.

This book is the publication of the Academy of Failure workshop in collaboration with Institute for Provocation Beijing in May 2018. It is part of the Humanities Across Borders initiative from the International Institute for Asian Studies. The workshop was inspired by Jack Halberstam’s book The Queer Art of Failure, in which he traverses different cultural domains, in both art and popular culture, to substantiate his claim that, “failing, losing, forgetting, unmaking, undoing, unbecoming, not knowing may in fact offer more creative, more cooperative, more surprising ways of being in the world.” (2011: 2) The book is designed by Elaine W. Ho and can be downloaded here. It comes with a movie by Wang Yiwei that can be found here.

Trans-Asia as Method – Theory and Practice

London: Rowman and Littlefield, 2019. Edited with Yiu Fai Chow and Gladys Pak Lei Chong.

This rich collection of essays offers a multi- and inter-disciplinary discussion of “trans-Asia” approaches from critical theory, historical studies, cultural studies to film studies. In doing so the authors lay down the groundwork for a more inclusive knowledge-production and fruitful transnational collaboration. The authors engage with the implications of “trans-Asia” using a range of empirical cases. At the heart of the book is a desire and attempt to give a grounded understanding of what “trans-Asia” approaches are by examining human mobilities, media culture flows and connections across Asia and beyond in four key aspects: cross-border flows and connections; inter-Asian comparison and referencing; transnational and de-nationalized approaches; and cross-border collaboration.

Boredom, Shanzhai, and Digitization in the Time of Creative China.

Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2019. Edited with Yiu Fai Chow and Lena Scheen.

With its emergence as a global power, China aspires to transform from made in China to created in China. Mobilised as a crucial source for solid growth and soft power, creativity has become part of the new China Dream. Boredom, Shanzhai, and Digitisation in the Time of Creative China engages with the imperative of creativity by aligning it to three interrelated phenomena: boredom, shanzhai, and digitisation. How does creativity help mitigate boredom? Does boredom incubate creativity? How do shanzhai practices and the omnipresence of fake goods challenge notions of the original and the authentic? Which spaces for expressions and contestations has China’s fast-developing digital world of Weixin, Taobao, Youku, and Internet Plus Policy opened up? Are new technologies serving old interests? Essays, dialogues, audio-visual documents, and field notes, from thinkers, researchers, practitioners, and policy-makers, examine what is going on in China now, ultimately to tease out its implication to our understanding of creativity.

Audio fragment: 1.2.4 Fang Runzhen (born in 1936) singing muk-jyu-go ‘Chasing Pheonix in a Buddhist Temple’(‘禅院追鸾’) can be found here.

Audio fragment: 1.2.5 Blind singer (name unknown) singing muk-jyu-go ‘Ling Zhaode Selling Water’ (‘林赵德卖水’) can be found here

DeKloet&Fung-YouthCulturesInChina2 – Version 2Youth Cultures in China

Cambridge: Polity, 2017. Co-authored with Anthony Fung. Also appeared in a Korean translation.

What does it mean to be young in a country that is changing so fast? What does it mean to be young in a place ruled by one Party, during a time of intense globalization and exposure to different cultures?

This fascinating and informative book explores the lives of Chinese youth and examines their experiences, the ways in which they are represented in the media, and their interactions with old and, especially, new media. The authors describe and analyse complex entanglements with family, school, workplace and the state, engaging with the multiplicity of Chinese youth cultures. Their case studies include, among others, the differences between migrant workers who move to Shenzhen to work in a factory and their affluent urban peers, and the romantic fantasies articulated by pop idols in TV dramas in contrast with young students working hard for their entrance exams and dream careers.

This book will be essential reading for students and scholars of youth culture, the sociology of youth and China studies more broadly. By showing how Chinese youth negotiate these regimes by carving out their own temporary spaces – from becoming a Goldfarmer in a virtual economy to performing as a Cosplayer – this book ultimately poses the question: Will the current system be able to accommodate this rapidly increasing diversity

Using an innovative methodology including interviews and ethnographic studies, the authors have given us a complex study of youth cultures. They do an excellent job of examining important and understudied issues such as media representations of youth in contemporary popular and digital culture.

Stanley Rosen, University of Southern California

In this interrogation of the multiplicity of youth cultures in China, the authors ditch familiar stereotypes of China s youth to explore how young urban people are charting challenging paths for China s future. Based largely on ethnographic research, this book will appeal to non-specialist readers as well as students of contemporary Chinese culture and society.
Harriet Evans, University of Westminster

Here you can buy the book.

Spectacle and the City – Chinese Urbanities in Art and Popular Culture

Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2013. Edited together with Lena Scheen

Amsterdam University Press has recently published this volume in its Cities and Cultures series. As China becomes increasingly modern and urban, artists have responded by imagining the Chinese city at the intersections of the social, material, and political realities of modern life. This volume explores how the city-as-spectacle has been visualized and contested in art and popular culture.  Featuring essays by an interdisciplinary team of scholars, Spectacle and the City is as broad as the terrain it covers: with essays by an interdisciplinary team of experts on Chinese cities, as well as leading cultural critics, it goes beyond mainland China to include cities with cultural significance, such as Singapore and Hong Kong.

Contributors are: Ackbar Abbas, Chua Beng Huat, Robin Visser, Yomi Braester, Jeroen de Kloet, Jeroen Groenewegen-Lau, Stefan Landsberger, Gladys Pak Lei Chong, Gregory Bracken, Margaret Hillenbrand, Lena Scheen, Ou Ning and John Nguyet Erni.

Click here to order the book.

Here you can download the introduction.

Sonic Multiplicities: Hong Kong Pop and the Global Circulation of Sound and Image

Bristol: Intellect, 2013. Co-authored with Yiu Fai Chow. Also appeared in a translation in traditional (Chinese University of Hong Kong Press) as well as simplified Chinese.

Through the lens of popular music in and from Hong Kong, Sonic Multiplicities examines the material, ideological, and geopolitical implications of music production and consumption. Yiu Fai Chow and Jeroen de Kloet draw on rich empirical research and industry experience to trace the worldwide flow of popular culture and the people who produce and consume it. In doing so, the authors make a significant contribution to our understanding of the political and social roles such circulation plays in today’s world—and in a city under cultural threat in a country whose prominence is on the rise. Just as important, they clear a new path for the study of popular music.

Sonic Multiplicities is a fascinating book, with essays rich in empirical detail and – captivatingly combining the personal and the theoretical – evocative of the complexities of experience, desire and politics in our perplexingly mobile and entangled world. The book’s focus on Hong Kong pop music as part of a translocal, if not global network of flows provides a starting point for the authors to unsettle received notions of Chineseness, place and identity, of particular importance in an time when we need to come to terms with, and resist, the increasingly stifling discourse of ‘the rise of China’ —  Ien Ang, University of Western Sydney

Yui Fai Chow and Jeroen de Kloet have provided vivid evidence, collective memories, alternative narratives and their own stories to disclaim the ‘Death of Hong Kong pop’ in the wake of looming rise of China. Sonic Multiplicities re-situates Chinese music and Cantopop at the crossroads of globalization, sinicization and re-nationalization —  Anthony Fung Y. H., Chinese University of Hong Kong

Here you can order the book.

Here you can read the review written by Subashini Navaratnam that appeared in Pop Matters.

China with a Cut – Globalisation, Urban Youth and Popular Music

Amsterdam: Amsterdam University Press, 2010. A Chinese translation is now being prepared to be published by the China Law Publishing House. In 2010, I received the ASCA book award for this book.

In the wake of intense globalisation and commercialisation in the 1990s, China saw the emergence of a vibrant popular culture. Drawing on sixteen years of research, Jeroen de Kloet explores the popular music industry in Beijing, Hong Kong and Shanghai, providing a fascinating history of its emergence and extensive audience analysis, while also exploring the effect of censorship on the music scene in China. China with a Cut pays particular attention to the dakou culture: so named after a cut nicked into the edge to render them unsellable, these illegally imported Western CDs still play most of the tracks. They also played a crucial role in the emergence of the new music and youth culture. De Kloet’s impressive study demonstrates how the young Chinese cope with the rapid economic and social changes in a period of intense globalisation, and offers a unique insight into the socio-cultural and political transformations of a rising global power.

“How does sound become local in the global age? This is the question posed by Jeroen de Kloet. As much an ethnography of the subjectivities articulated to pop music practices as it is an interrogation of the assumptions of sinocentricity, this book constitutes a provocative statement on ‘Chineseness’ at the crossroads of contemporary media, everyday life, and geopolitics.” — Rey Chow, Duke University.

“Jeroen de Kloet provides a rich and fascinating account of the myriad forms of rock in contemporary China. This book transformed my understanding of contemporary Chinese culture – and of rock music beyond Europe and North America.” — David Hesmondhalgh, University of Leeds.

“An authoritative, scholarly and up-to-date account of an important and fascinating field of popular music which sets a new benchmark in global music studies.” — Tony Mitchell, University of Technology Sydney.

Reviewed in The China Quarterly, The China Journal, IIAS Newsletter, European Journal of Cultural Studies, The China Information, The Chinese Journal of Communication, Asian Ethnology Journal, The European Journal of Communication. 

Here you can buy the book, but you can also download it for free here.

Cosmopatriots: On Distant Belongings and Close Encounters

Edited volume, together with Edwin Jurriens, New York & Amsterdam: Rodopi (2007).

This volume analyzes mediated articulations of “cosmopatriotism” in East and South-East Asian popular cultures and arts. Cosmopatriots navigate between a loyalty to the home country and a sense of longing for and belonging to the world. Rather than searching for the truly globalized cosmopolitans, the authors of this collection look for the postcolonial, rooted cosmopolitans who insist on thinking and feeling simultaneously beyond and within the nation. The cultural sites they discuss include Hong Kong, Indonesia, China, Singapore, the United States, South Korea and Australia. They show how media from both sides of the arbitrary divide between high art and popular culture – including film, literature, the fine arts, radio, music, television and mobile phones – function as vehicles for the creation and expression of, or reflection upon, intersections between patriotism and cosmopolitanism.

Here you can buy the book. Here you can download the whole book.