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The Lives of Dakou in China: From Waste to Nostalgia

Abstract : A peculiar object deeply transformed the Chinese cultural sphere in the 1990s: dakou (打口) CDs and tapes. Literally meaning “cut” or “gashed,” the term dakou refers to CDs and tapes illegally sold on the Chinese black market in the 1990s, which had been shipped to China from the West in order to recycle unsold CDs and tapes. To prevent them from being sold on the black market, these CDs and tapes were cut (打) on the edges (口) in order to render them useless. This did not take into account, however, that an audio disc is read from the center to the outer edge, so only the last track was lost. A large part of this musical waste was sold for a cheap price on the black market in large cities in China, in defiance of official censorship, since a lot of Western pop music was forbidden. This paper tackles the question of dakou nostalgia by the members of the “dakou generation” through a study of various accounts, as well as stories and articles that have been published in the past few years, shedding new light on this unprecedented phenomenon.
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https://hal.archives-ouvertes.fr/hal-03265554
Contributor : Nathanel Amar Connect in order to contact the contributor
Submitted on : Tuesday, June 29, 2021 - 4:23:54 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, June 30, 2021 - 3:33:50 AM
Long-term archiving on: : Thursday, September 30, 2021 - 6:03:49 PM

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Nathanel Amar. The Lives of Dakou in China: From Waste to Nostalgia. Études Chinoises, Association française d'études chinoises, 2018, 38 (2), pp.35-60. ⟨hal-03265554⟩

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