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Communist Multiculturalism

Ethnic Revival in Southwest China

by Susan McCarthy

Publication Year: 2009

The communist Chinese state promotes the distinctiveness of the many minorities within its borders. At the same time, it is vigilant in suppressing groups that threaten the nation's unity or its modernizing goals. In Communist Multiculturalism, Susan K. McCarthy examines three minority groups in the province of Yunnan, focusing on the ways in which they have adapted to the government's nationbuilding and minority nationalities policies since the 1980s. She reveals that Chinese government policy is shaped by perceptions of what constitutes an authentic cultural group and of the threat ethnic minorities may constitute to national interests. These minority groups fit no clear categories but rather are practicing both their Chinese citizenship and the revival of their distinct cultural identities. For these groups, being minority is, or can be, one way of being national.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv


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pp. v-vi

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pp. vii-x

Susan McCarthy’s Communist Multiculturalism, the eleventh volume in the Studies on Ethnic Groups in China series, exemplifies in many ways the methods and the message that the series...

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pp. xi-xiv

This book is the fruit of many years of thinking about questions of cultural identity in the Chinese context. It analyzes the politics of post-Mao cultural revival among three Chinese minority groups, the Dai, Bai, and Hui, and explores how minority...

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pp. xv-xvii

This book was made possible by the support and inspiration of many people. The chain of events that produced it was set in motion over twenty years ago, at Whitman College. It was because of Whitman that I first went to China, thanks to the late...

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pp. 3-19

This book is the result of a faux pas. It grew out of a gaffe committed several years before I embarked on my academic career. In the late 1980s, I spent a year teaching English at Yunnan University in the city of Kunming. Yunnan is China’s most ethnically...

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1. Culture, the Nation, and Chinese Minority Identity

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pp. 20-48

The story of the nation is often conceived of as a Bildungsroman, a narrative of self-journey and self-discovery. As the story is told in accounts of political nationalism or in academic theory, the development of the nation first entails the coming into...

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2. The Dai, Bai, and Hui in Historical Perspective

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pp. 49-69

The status of the Dai, Bai, and Hui as minority minzu is based on the idea that they exhibit unique configurations of cultural and religious characteristics. As official minorities they possess certain rights and privileges under Chinese law. Yet, are the Dai, Bai, and...

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3. Dharma and Development among the Xishuangbanna Dai

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pp. 70-99

In the spring of 1997, the villagers of Manchunman, in the Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture, celebrated the dedication of the recently rebuilt local Buddhist temple with an elaborate festival. Manchunman is situated on the banks of the Lancang (Mekong) River in Menghan...

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4.The Bai and the Tradition of Modernity

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pp. 100-129

One of the hallmarks of nationalist movements and ethnic revivals is nostalgia for pasts real or invented. Longings for a romanticized ideal are obvious in overtly atavistic nationalisms, the Nazi vision of a bucolic Aryan Lebensraum being one example...

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5. Authenticity, Identity, and Tradition among the Hui

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pp. 130-166

Chinese minorities are frequently portrayed in art, literature, popular culture, and public policy as backward, childlike primitives, in need of the civilizing assistance of the elder brother Han nationality. Alternatively they are feminized exotics,...

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pp. 167-178

Cultural revival among the Dai, Bai, and Hui has taken a variety of forms. Members of these groups have plumbed the past for inspiration and have explored new modes of identity articulation. They have both resuscitated tradition and established new...

Chinese Glossary

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pp. 179-180


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pp. 181-198


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pp. 199-218


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pp. 219-226

E-ISBN-13: 9780295800417
E-ISBN-10: 0295800410
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295989099
Print-ISBN-10: 0295989092

Publication Year: 2009

OCLC Number: 774399879
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Communist Multiculturalism

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Bai (Chinese people) -- China -- Yunnan Sheng.
  • Yunnan Sheng (China) -- Ethnic relations.
  • Tai (Southeast Asian people) -- China -- Yunnan Sheng.
  • Hui (Chinese people) -- China -- Yunnan Sheng.
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