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November 28 , 2007

Popular Music of Vietnam

The Politics of Remembering, the Economics of Forgetting


Based on the author’s research in Ho Chi Minh City, Hanoi, and other urban areas in Vietnam, this study of contemporary Vietnamese popular music explores the ways globalization and free market economics have influenced the music and subcultures of Vietnamese youth, focusing on the conflict between the politics of remembering, nurtured by the Vietnamese Communist government, and the politics of forgetting driven by the capitalist interests of the music industry.

Vietnamese youth at the end of the second and beginning of the third millennium are influenced by the challenges generated by a number of seemingly opposite ideologies and realities, such as "the past" versus "the present," socialism versus capitalism, and cultural traditionalism versus globalization. Vietnam has undergone a radical demographic shift with a very pronounced youth movement, and consequently, Vietnamese popular culture has been radically reshaped by a young population coming of age in the twenty-first century. As Olsen reveals, the way Vietnamese young people cope with these opposing and contrasting forces is often expressed in their active and passive music making.

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