From Singing Ghosts to Docile Concubines Elite Domestication of the Local in the Wu Songs

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Qiulei Hu



This article examines the fascination of émigré elite literati with southern local songs known as the “Wu songs” in the early Southern dynasties. I argue that, through their cultivation of these songs, the émigré elite in the Eastern Jin and Liu-Song dynasties created an image of a “cultural other” and attempted to domesticate this other, experienced as southern, local, and feminine. A gender discourse—the ascription of femininity to the local—was employed as a crucial approach in this domestication. I also explore the unexpected outcome of this cultural encounter in the subsequent centuries, i.e., the merging of the northern elite and southern local music and cultural traditions.

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