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Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China

By Stevan Harrell

Publication Year: 2001

Published by: University of Washington Press

Title Page, Copyright

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pp. iii-iv


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pp. vii-viii

List of Maps

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p. ix-ix

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pp. x-xii

This book is the result of three periods of field research in Liangshan Prefecture and Panzhihua City, Sichuan, undertaken in collaboration with local research institutes in those areas, as well as with provincial institutions in Chengdu. Everywhere I went, people helped out, usually ...

Part 1. The Political, Naturalm and Historical Setting

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1. Some Ethnic Displays

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pp. 5-15

My research collaborators, mostly graduate students from Sichuan University in Chengdu, were a bit disappointed with our preliminary visit in 1988 to the Yi village of Yishala on the Yunnan border south of Panzhihua City. It was, they said, tai Han hua, “too Hanified.” ...

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2. Foundations of Ethnic Identity

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pp. 16-32

Ethnic relations in Liangshan, complex as they are, are further complicated by the relationship between the local ethnic groups of the region and the projects of the Chinese state and the putative Chinese nation. Because the daily lives of the people—Nuosu, Prmi, Naze, Han, and others— ...

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3. Ethnology, Linguistics, and Politics

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pp. 33-56

In any political system that involves relations among ethnic groups and/or nations, ideas of nationhood and identity maintain their salience only insofar as they are framed in categories relevant to the lives of the participants. Since ethnic groups and nations exist only insofar as people recognize their ...

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4. The Land and its History

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pp. 57-78

The Liangshan-Panzhihua area (map 1) forms an inverted triangle jutting down below the fertile plains of historic Sichuan on the north and northeast, between the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau on the southwest, south, and east, and the foothills of the Tibetan Massif on the northwest. It is ...

Part 2. Primordial Ethnicity: The Nuosu

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5. Nuosu History and Culture

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pp. 81-103

Nuosu are the largest, most culturally distinct, and most ethnically separate ethnic group in Liangshan, and their ethnic identity is thus the simplest to describe of all ethnic groups in the area. Nuosu are concentrated in most areas, scattered in a few; they speak four dialects that are fairly ...

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6. Mishi: A Demographically and Culturally Nuosu Community

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pp. 104-128

Mishi is written in Chinese with the characters meaning “rice market.” It is reported by Nuosu cadres that pla troops, coming into the area to quell the rebellion in the late 1950s, looked at the map and thought maybe it would not be such a hardship post after all; they would ...

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7. Baiwu: Nuosu in an Ethnic Mix

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pp. 129-152

If Hxiemga are a haunting presence for the people of Mishi, they are neighbors, rivals, and sometimes friends for many Nuosu people in Baiwu, a township in Yanyuan, far on the other side of the Anning and Yalong Rivers. There Nuosu, though now numerically dominant, were the last ethnic group ...

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8. Manshuiwan: Nuosu Ethnicity in a Culturally Han Area

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pp. 153-170

Nobody walking into Manshuiwan would suspect that he was in a Nuosu village unless he listened carefully. The village is a few kilometers northeast of the Xichang satellite-launching station, and stands astride both the main north-south highway of the Anning Valley and ...

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9. Nuosum Yi, China, and the World

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pp. 171-189

This chapter begins with a self-criticism. In the previous three chapters, describing Nuosu ethnicity in three very di¤erent rural communities, I have perpetrated a convenient fiction: the idea that one can describe ethnic identity and ethnic relations in a certain locality without considering ...

Part 3. Historically Contingent Ethnicity: The Prmi and Naze

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10. The Contingent Ethnicity of the Prmi

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pp. 193-215

Prmi and Naze ethnicity works very differently from that of the Nuosu. Nuosu ethnic boundaries are definite. All Nuosu are Yi in minzu terms, and Nuosu are clearly distinguished locally from other ethnic groups (both Yi and non-Yi) both by recognition of difference and by endogamy, just ...

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11. The Contested Identity of the Naze

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pp. 216-238

Unlike their Prmi cousins, at peace with their identity and almost unknown to the outside world, the Naze are caught up in intersecting swirls of controversy about who they are and whom or what they represent. To what minzu do they belong—Mongolian, Meng, Naxi, or ...

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12. Representing the Naze

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pp. 239-260

The struggles over identity, complex as they are, nevertheless constitute only one part of the Naze ways of being ethnic. Because of their unusual kinship system, the Western Naze, at least, are far better known to the world in general, and particularly the Chinese world, than their ...

Part 4. Residual and Instrumental Ethnicity

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13. Ethnicity and Acculturation: Some Little Groups

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pp. 263-291

All of the groups we have examined so far have possessed ethnic identities that clearly differentiate them from the majority Han—the Nuosu have an unassailable endogamy and, in most places, a distinct cultural and linguistic heritage that renders their identity completely unproblematic, ...

Part 5. Default Ethnicity: The Han

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14. The Majority as Minority

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pp. 295-310

For all the local ethnic communities described so far in this book, the Han Chinese have constituted some kind of “other,” whether it be a haunting Hxiemga presence for the Nuosu of Mishi, an acculturating force and developmental rival or partner of the Shuitian in Futian, or a neighbor ...

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Conclusion: Comparing Ways of Being Ethnic

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pp. 311-330

Thus do the peoples of Liangshan live their lives as ethnics: as members of local communities, almost all of whom come into regular or occasional contact with members of different communities and with the representatives of the Chinese state; and also as members of state-designated ...


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pp. 331-339


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pp. 341-363


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pp. 365-370

E-ISBN-13: 9780295804071
E-ISBN-10: 0295804076
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295981239
Print-ISBN-10: 0295981237

Publication Year: 2001

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Ethnicity -- China -- Sichuan Sheng.
  • Ethnic groups -- Government policy -- China -- Sichuan Sheng.
  • Acculturation -- China -- Sichuan Sheng.
  • Sichuan Sheng (China) -- Ethnic relations.
  • Sichuan Sheng (China) -- Social policy.
  • Sichuan Sheng (China) -- Social conditions.
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