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date: 25 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This article has been commissioned as part of the forthcoming Oxford Handbook of Music Revival edited by Caroline Bithell and Juniper Hill. This chapter examines processes of music revival with reference to the Vietnamese music and dance tradition ca trù, which was inscribed on UNESCO's "Urgent Safeguarding List" in 2009. It provides an overview of the historical ontologies of ca trù and considers how revival efforts have affected traditional musical practices. A close examination of music revival in Vietnam reveals some of the dangers of top-down systems of cultural management at the international and national level, which are increasingly prevalent around the world. Rather than stimulating diverse approaches to music revival, it is argued that revivalist discourse that promotes ca trù as intangible cultural heritage threatens to limit ca trù's musical and ritual meanings, to define its contemporary social relevance in primarily nationalistic terms, and to make it more difficult for a vital, innovative musical culture to emerge.

Keywords: Vietnam, ca trù, ontologies, UNESCO, intangible cultural heritage, safeguarding, music revival, nationalism, innovation

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