By Mary Rack
This cutting edge booklet explores the way in which Western anthropologists use reviews of ethnicity to 'interpret' neighborhood cultures. Mary Rack increases serious matters approximately ethnic classifications and how they're used, making this a publication that might be important for all scholars of ethnicity.Overturning the generalising trends attribute of vintage anthropology, Rack demonstrates that ethnic classifications have little to do with the self-perceptions of these involved –– and every thing to do with political and highbrow elites. concentrating on a rural region of south China, Rack exhibits how so-called ethnic minority cultural occasions became events for the exploration of private identification by means of city elites. She means that, traditionally, ethnic classifications have been drawn up because of elite trouble to illustrate the life of a contrasting homogeneous and better civilisation. This examine sheds new mild at the ways that Western anthropologists deal with ethnicity and ethnic distinction extra regularly.
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Additional info for Ethnic Distinctions, Local Meanings: Negotiating Cultural Identities in China (Anthropology, Culture and Society Series)
Cultural change was certainly not all in the direction of the ‘Miao’ giving up their ways. The establishment of local headmen in the early days of China’s expansion into the south is indicative of the actual weakness of the culturalist ideology. The alternative possibility, whereby a Chinese leader and a group of soldiers would be set in place of a defeated local leader, usually resulted in them becoming absorbed into the surrounding indigenous people (Wiens 1967: 208–9). Thus we learn that, in West Hunan, some families ‘became Miao’ during the Ming dynasty after arriving in the area from the east (Ling and Ruey 1963: 128).
Another person, who had grown up in a Kho Xiong-speaking village some 30 years before told me strikingly similar stories of poor children being taunted on the grounds that their mothers made gu. Both these contacts appeared sceptical as to whether such practices actually took place. But they were in no doubt that accusations were made, not as a result of ethnic tensions but against people who, for reasons of gender or poverty, had relatively little power within their village. Conversely, I was never told that gu might represent a danger to myself.
By the time of the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) an increasing emphasis on the classification and separation of different peoples developed alongside this culturalist ideology. This became part of a ‘civilising project’ through which ‘asymmetrical dialogues between the center and the periphery’ attempted ‘to define, to objectify’ those it classified as other peoples (Harrell 1995: 3–8). The change in emphasis can be found in writings on the Miao from this time. 3 At the end of the twelfth century it was used to refer to a particular group of barbarians as is indicated when Ruey Yih-fu writes that in the 1190s, … there were five kinds of aborigines, known collectively as the Wu-ch’i Man or the Barbarians of the Five Streams, namely, the Miao, Yao, Lao, Chuang and Keh-lao.
Ethnic Distinctions, Local Meanings: Negotiating Cultural Identities in China (Anthropology, Culture and Society Series) by Mary Rack