The contemporary gospel singing of the Nujiang Lisu in China’s southwestern Yunnan province seems to have been predominated by new media technologies and recorded popular mutgguat ssat music. The prevalence of Christian audiovisual recordings reflects more than a shift in the materiality of Lisu religious practices. Moreover, it speaks to the transformative ways that the Christian Lisu have engaged with technologies for their gospel singing as a practice of religious mediation. New musical styles and expressive forms have been disseminated through recordings and further institutionalized in the worship service and other religious settings. Drawing on a material approach from the recent studies of religion as mediation, rather than perceiving modern mass media as destructive to the traditional hymn singing and authentic religious experience, I examine how recording-mediated mutgguat ssat singing celebrates Lisu religious, social and cultural identities in contemporary Nujiang society. I contend that the adoption of audiovisual recording has enriched Lisu singing to operate as a resilient medium through the use of which elements of traditional cultural forms are incorporated to encourage religious participation and further produce a more genuine Lisu expression of Christianity on a daily basis.
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"Mediating Gospel Singing: Audiovisual Recording and the Transformation of Voice among the Christian Lisu in Post-2000 Nujiang, China,"
Yale Journal of Music & Religion:
1, Article 5.