- Producing Cosmopolitanism at the Borderlands: Lonely Planeteers and “Local” Cosmopolitans in Southwest China
- Anthropological Quarterly
- George Washington University Institute for Ethnographic Research
- Volume 81, Number 3, Summer 2008
- pp. 615-650
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- Additional Information
While recent ethnographic research has complicated our understanding of the “cosmopolitan,” assumptions persist that those who are cosmopolitan must be metropolitan, mobile, consumers. Ethnic minority café owners in the borderland town of Dali, Yunnan, located in the himalayan foothills of southwest China, challenge these assumptions. Their cosmopolitanism has arisen not out of travel, consumption or metropolitan residence, but out of producing cosmopolitanism for transnational travelers, and increasingly, national tourists. While the café owners’ production of cosmopolitanism has become a means for social mobility and ethno-religious revitalization, not a political end in itself, their cosmopolitanism has political implications for how “minorities,” “indigenous peoples,” and borderland places are conceptualized, represented and controlled. The cosmopolitan production of the minority café owners calls for us to reconceptualize the who, what and why of cosmopolitanism.