Date of Award

8-2015

Degree Type

Thesis

Degree Name

Master of Music

Major

Music

Major Professor

Leslie C. Gay

Committee Members

Rachel M. Golden, Andrew M. Bliss

Abstract

Present in Panama since the 19th century, the Chinese diaspora in Panama City, Panama represents an empowered community of individuals who identify as both Chinese and Panamanian. These Chinese Panamanian hybrid identities emerge within sonic environments through an engagement with transnational media and digital technologies, notably within retail stores. Specifically, music surfaces as an especially important sonic marker of the Chinese Panamanian hybridity. Within the mall of the Panamanian Chinatown of El Dorado, an interesting mixture of both Chinese and Latin American popular music genres sounds throughout the various stores. This mixture of music genres demonstrates Chinese Panamanian agency in asserting and reaffirming the diasporic community’s status as both Chinese and Panamanian.

Based on fieldwork conducted in Panama during the summer of 2014, I argue that the Chinese diaspora within Panama City shapes and asserts to its hybrid identity through its technocultural use of global, mass-mediated musical genres in the creation of soundscapes. Through a careful examination of sound studies and the transnational relationships between music technologies and the communities that use them, this study contributes to knowledge in the fields of ethnomusicology and diaspora studies. It offers a better understanding of how people in transnational and diasporic groups use and experience music to form hybrid identities. Additionally, the findings from this project open the door for further research in Chinese and East Asian studies within a Latin American context, with specific regard for music and technology.

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