Nathanel Amar

Nathanel Amar holds degrees from Sorbonne University, Paris 1 (BA, MA) in philosophy and Sciences Po, Paris (BA, MA, PhD) in political science. His PhD, defended in December 2015, focused on the making of a counter-cultural sphere in contemporary China, and made extensive use of ethnographic fieldwork among Chinese punk and independent filmmaker communities. His primary research areas include pop culture and cultural hegemony, and the relationship between Chinese counter-culture and mainstream culture and identity politics.
Nathanel taught Chinese sociology, cultural studies and international relations at Sciences Po Paris from 2015 to 2017, and worked as a research assistant in the Sino-French Center for social science at Tsinghua University (Beijing) from 2013 to 2015.

As a member of HKU’s Society of Fellows in the Humanities, Nathanel worked on musical circulations in the Sinophone world, analyzing for instance the influence of the Hong Kong rock Beyond in the PRC during the 1990s, but also the relationships between music and the construction of identities. He also taught a class on “Nationalism, ethnicity and identity in contemporary China” in 2019 at the China Studies department.

Since September 2019, Nathanel is the Director of the Taipei antenna of the French Centre for Research on Contemporary China (CEFC).


Academic Blog: Scream for Life, digital archives of alternative music in contemporary China.

Course taught in 2018-2019:

SINO 2017: “Nationalism, ethnicity and identity in contemporary China”

Recent publications:

Editorial – Including Music to the Sinophone, Provincializing Chinese Music“, China Perspectives, 2019/3, Special issue on “Sinophone Musical Worlds”:

“The Great Chinese Rock ‘n’ Roll Swindle. How a postmodernist trickster convinced the world that punk rock had reached China in the early ’80s”, RadiiChina, 13 May 2019, online:

“Is China Headed Towards a Future Without Foreign Bands?”, RadiiChina, 27 February 2019, online:

Beijing calling. Les punks chinois à l’assaut de la culture officielle”, La Revue du Crieur; 2019/1, p. 150-159, online:

“Drunk is Beautiful. Boire au bord de l’eau : usage de l’alcool dans la communauté punk chinoise”, Civilisations, 66, 2017, p. 139-155, online:

““你有freestyle吗?” (Do you freestyle?) The Roots of Censorship in Chinese Hip-hop”, China Perspectives, 2018/1-2, online:

Review of “Yiu-Wai Chu, Hong Kong Cantopop: A Concise History“, China Perspectives, 2017/4, online:

“Piece of garbage complains to China’s Bureau of Culture regarding punk legends SMZB”, Unite Asia, 19 January 2018, online:

Latest conferences and symposium:

“Alternative Public Space and Punk Subculture: The Case of ‘Our Home’ in Wuhan”, Workshop organized at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (ULB) on Alternative Youth in China, June 25, 2019.

“Beyond Musical, Political and Linguistic Boundaries: The Influence of the Hong Kong Rock Band Beyond in the PRC during the 1990s”, Sinophone Studies: Interdisciplinary Perspectives and Critical Reflections, UCLA, April 12-13, 2019.

“Chinese Popular Culture and Strategies of Resistance”, talk at CUHK, “China Today” Class, March 20, 2019.

“Music Censorship and the Chinese Underground Musical Scene”, Graduate Institute of Musicology, National Taiwan University, January 4, 2019.

“Early Chinese punk network and the quest for space”, Symposium on Underground Music-Making in Hong Kong and East Asia, December 10, 2018.

“Radical participation: The politics of performance in Chinese punk-rock concerts”, The University of Hong Kong, Department of Music, “Mediating Music/Sound: Discourses, Technologies, Socialities”, December 1, 2018.

Remembering China’s Past: Punk Songs and Alternative History“, The 6th Symposium of the Study Group on Musics of East Asia, August 23, 2018, National Gugak Center, Seoul

“The Lives of Dakou in China: From Waste to Nostalgia”, AFEC International Workshop Chinese Objects and their Lives, June 15, 2018, INALCO, Paris.

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