The Journal of Asian Studies

Research Article

Stars to the State and Beyond: Globalization, Identity, and Asian Popular Music

Jennifer Milioto Matsue


Popular music is a dynamic portal through which to gain a greater understanding of a vast array of social phenomena within Asia. In particular, the power of pop to actively shape conceptions of self and inform the ways in which we interact with others at the individual, communal, and even national and transnational levels has taken center stage, but understanding just how these identities are formed through the performance of popular music is quite complex in the current global moment. Through comparison of recent scholarship covering diverse types of popular music throughout Asia, this article explores how identity formation is informed by an increasingly nuanced understanding of globalization. Moving from a most intimate sense to broad transnational and inter-ethnic contexts, it not only expands the concept of identity in Asia, but also reveals how the study of popular music in general can illuminate other social issues important to Asianists.

Jennifer Milioto Matsue ( is Associate Professor in the Departments of Music, Asian Studies, and Anthropology at Union College.