The commodification of culture has received much attention in social and cultural geography. Based on empirical research in Lijiang, a World Heritage site in China, this paper contributes to an understanding of commodification through a focus on selling ethnic music to tourists. Drawing upon a theoretical framework of tourism commodification and the cultural politics of music, I argue that the commodification of music is embedded in a temporal process in which culture, economy, and politics synthesize to shape place making and identity building. This paper presents three major findings: (1) commodification sustains discourses of identity building and cultural revival that in turn serve to justify the pursuit of profit; (2) commodification is variegated over time and across space; and (3) commodification provides the conditions for local musicians to increase their capacity to produce local narratives of music. By demonstrating the commodification of ethnic music and the cultural politics of musical space in Lijiang, this paper calls for an interconnection of economy, culture, and politics in understanding the materiality of music. © 2011 Elsevier Ltd.
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