Drawing on extensive fieldwork conducted in the 1980s and 1990s in southern Sichuan, this pathbreaking study examines the nature of ethnic consciousness and ethnic relations among local communities, focusing on the Nuosu (classified as Yi by the Chinese government), Prmi, Naze, and Han. It argues that even within the same regional social system, ethnic identity is formulated, perceived, and promoted differently by different communities at different times.
Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China exemplifies a model in which ethnic consciousness and ethnic relations consist of drawing boundaries between one's own group and others, crossing those boundaries, and promoting internal unity within a group. Leaders and members of ethnic groups use commonalties and differences in history, culture, and kinship to promote internal unity and to strengthen or cross external boundaries. Superimposed on the structure of competing and cooperating local groups is a state system of ethnic classification and administration; members and leaders of local groups incorporate this system into their own ethnic consciousness, co-opting or resisting it situationally.
The heart of the book consists of detailed case studies of three Nuosu village communities, along with studies of Prmi and Naze communities, smaller groups such as the Yala and Nasu, and Han Chinese who live in minority areas. These are followed by a synthesis that compares different configurations of ethnic identity in different communities and discusses the implications of these examples for our understanding of ethnicity and for the near future of China. This lively description and analysis of the region's complex ethnic identities and relationships constitutes an original and important contribution to the study of ethnic identity.
Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China will be of interest to social scientists concerned with issues of ethnicity and state-building.
List of MapsAcknowledgments Part One | The Political, Natural, and Historical Setting1. Some Ethnic Displays2. Foundations of Ethnic Identity3. Ethnicity, Linguistics, and Politics4. The Land and Its History Part Two | Primordial Ethnicity: The Nuosu1. Nuosu History and Culture2. Mishi: A Demographically and Culturally Nuosu Community3. Baiwu: Nuosu in an Ethnic Mix4. Manshuiwan: Nuosu Ethnicity in a Culturally Han Area5. Nuosu, Yi, China, and the World Part Three | Historically Contingent Ethnicity: Prmi and Naze1. The Contingent Ethnicity of the Prmi2. The Contested Identity of the Naze3. Representing the Naze Part Four | Residual and Instrumental Ethnicity1. Ethnicity and Acculturation: Some Little Groups Part Five | Default Ethnicity: The Han1. The Majority as Minority ConclusionComparing Ways of Being Ethnic GlossaryBibliography Index