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Ethnic Distinctions, Local Meanings: Negotiating Cultural Identities in China

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Synopses & Reviews

Publisher Comments:

"EthnicDistinctions, Local Meanings" is a study of ethnicity and ethnic classifications in a rural area of south China. This issues it raises will be of use to all students of ethnicity, and the way Western anthropologists use it to 'interpret' local cultures.Mary Rack overturns many of the generalizing tendencies characteristic of 'orthodox' anthropology, by demonstrating that the ethnic classifications so apparent in the administration and promotion of the area have little to do with the self-perceptions of those concerned" who recognize no such clear-cut distinctions" and everything to do with political and intellectual elites. The book explores in detail a variety of cultural events. Rack shows how so-called ethnic minority cultural events have become occasions for the exploration of personal identity by urban elites. She illustrates how demonstrations of political orthodoxy by rural cadres" for example, at local government-supported New Festivals" are attended by villagers, but are largely ignored by the wider population of the region. Of more significance to the inhabitants are the more politically-threatening cultural events" for instance, celebrating a shared border area experience at an unofficially restored temple. Rack suggests that, historically, ethnic classifications were drawn up as a result of elite concern to demonstrate the existence of a contrastingly homogeneous and superior Chinese civilisation. This study sheds new light on the ways in which Western anthropologists handle ethnicity and ethnic difference more generally.

Synopsis:

A study of ethnicity and ethnic classifications in a rural area of south China, overturning many of the generalising tendencies characteristic of ‘orthodox anthropology.

Synopsis:

This innovative book explores the way Western anthropologists use studies of ethnicity to 'interpret' local cultures. Mary Rack raises critical issues about ethnic classifications and the way they are used, making this a book that will be useful for all students of ethnicity.Overturning the generalising tendencies characteristic of classic anthropology, Rack demonstrates that ethnic classifications have little to do with the self-perceptions of those concerned — and everything to do with political and intellectual elites. Focusing on a rural area of south China, Rack shows how so-called ethnic minority cultural events have become occasions for the exploration of personal identity by urban elites. She suggests that, historically, ethnic classifications were drawn up as a result of elite concern to demonstrate the existence of a contrasting homogeneous and superior civilisation. This study sheds new light on the ways in which Western anthropologists handle ethnicity and ethnic difference more generally.

About the Author

Mary Rack works as a teacher for the Ethnic Minority and Traveller Achievement Service in Gateshead, England. Previously, she lectured in Anthropology at Durham University and held the Sociological Review Fellowship at Keele University.

Table of Contents

Acknowledgements
1. Where are the Miao?
2. Miao Rebels and 'Common Ground'
3. Multiple Meanings of the Miao
4. The Rituals of New Year
5. Authority and the Local
6. Conflict at the Temple of the Celestial Kings
7. Conclusions
Bibliography

Product Details

ISBN:
9780745319384
Author:
Rack, Mary
Publisher:
Pluto Press (UK)
Subject:
Anthropology - Cultural
Subject:
Asia - China
Subject:
Ethnic Studies - General
Subject:
anthropology;cultural anthropology
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
20050331
Binding:
TRADE PAPER
Grade Level:
Professional and scholarly
Language:
English
Pages:
168
Dimensions:
8.5 x 5.32 x 0.53 in

Related Subjects

History and Social Science » Anthropology » Cultural Anthropology
History and Social Science » Ethnic Studies » General
History and Social Science » World History » China

Ethnic Distinctions, Local Meanings: Negotiating Cultural Identities in China New Trade Paper
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Product details 168 pages Pluto Press (UK) - English 9780745319384 Reviews:
"Synopsis" by ,
A study of ethnicity and ethnic classifications in a rural area of south China, overturning many of the generalising tendencies characteristic of ‘orthodox anthropology.
"Synopsis" by ,
This innovative book explores the way Western anthropologists use studies of ethnicity to 'interpret' local cultures. Mary Rack raises critical issues about ethnic classifications and the way they are used, making this a book that will be useful for all students of ethnicity.Overturning the generalising tendencies characteristic of classic anthropology, Rack demonstrates that ethnic classifications have little to do with the self-perceptions of those concerned — and everything to do with political and intellectual elites. Focusing on a rural area of south China, Rack shows how so-called ethnic minority cultural events have become occasions for the exploration of personal identity by urban elites. She suggests that, historically, ethnic classifications were drawn up as a result of elite concern to demonstrate the existence of a contrasting homogeneous and superior civilisation. This study sheds new light on the ways in which Western anthropologists handle ethnicity and ethnic difference more generally.
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