Dr Zhongwei Li

Dr Zhongwei Li

LSE Fellow

Department of Media and Communications

English, Mandarin
Key Expertise
China popular music, subculture, cultural production and circulation

About me

Zhongwei Li is an LSE Fellow in the Department of Media and Communications at LSE.

Zhongwei Li has a Bachelor's in Pedagogy from Beijing Normal University and an MPhil in Sociology from the University of Cambridge. Li first joined LSE as a doctoral researcher in 2015, he was an exchange student at the University of Manchester (2012/13) and the University of Amsterdam (2017/18). After obtaining his PhD in January 2020, Li has been working as a teaching fellow in the Department of Media and Communications, LSE. He is currently teaching and co-convening MC408, and he has contributed to the teachings of MC402 and the LSE-PKU summer school in the previous years.

Li's current research interests lie in music, subcultures, and the informal ways of cultural production and circulation, particularly in relation to the Chinese context. His doctoral project, titled Cut-out: Music, Profanity and Subcultural Politics in 1990s China, depicts a historical-ethnographic account of the Chinese cut-out (dakou) subculture, drawing from over 70 life story interviews and extensive archival research. The “cut-out generation” was mainland China’s first generation of rock music aficionados who were accidentally exposed to Western popular music through the so-called “cut-out” records, that is, the leftovers of Western music industries imported into developing countries as plastic waste. The project traces the politics of materiality, taste, and value in the informal cut-out economy and examines the multitude of ways in which cut-out records, along with the Western music they brought, were redefined and appropriated by the local youth into a unique subcultural response to the rapidly shifting conditions of 1990s Chinese society. Based on his doctoral thesis, Li is currently working on a monograph in English and a narrative nonfiction book in Chinese. He has also been actively involved in music scenes in China and London and worked with various organizations to bring China’s emerging artists to a wider international stage.


  • MC408: Theories and Concepts in Media and Communications I: Key concepts and interdisciplinary approaches 
  • MC402: The Audience in Media and Communications
  • MC499: Dissertation: Media and Communications
  • MC4M1: Methods of Research in Media and Communications

Selected Publications

  • 2020. Listening to the Scrap: Contested Materialities of Music in 1990s’ China, in T, Tofalvy & E, Barna (Eds.), From Cassettes to Stream: Popular Music, Technology and the Changing Media Ecosystem, pp. forthcoming. Palgrave Macmillan.
  • 2018. Book ReviewTransnational Audiences: Media Reception on a Global Scale by Athique Adrian, Global Media and Communication, Vol. 15 Issue. 1, pp. 145-147. DOI link: https://doi.org/10.1177/1742766518786288.
  • 2016. Book Review: Why Music Matters by David Hesmondhalgh, Networking Knowledge, Vol. 9 No. 2, pp. 1-5 (ISSN: 1755-9944).

Expertise Details

China popular music; subculture; cultural production and circulation