Chinese history has always been written from a centrist viewpoint. Telling the story of a quintessential Chinese culture that spread uniformly from the administrative heartland to the previously untamed periphery, official records have largely ignored the local histories of the country’s conquered peoples, preserved for generations in the form of oral tradition through myths, legends, and religious rituals. The history of southwestern China, a region known today for its minority character, is the subject of this volume.
In Chieftains into Ancestors, the authors describe the intersection of imperial administration and chieftain-dominated local culture. Since the acceptance of a new socio-political structure never happens overnight, they observe local rituals against the backdrop of extant written records, focusing on examples from the southwestern Hunan, Guangxi, Yunnan, and southwestern Guangdong provinces. The authors contemplate the crucial question of how one can begin to write the history of a conquered people whose past has been largely wiped out. Combining anthropological fieldwork with historical textual analysis, they dig deep for the indigenous voice as they build a new history of China’s southwestern region – one that recognizes the ethnic, religious, and gendered transformations that took place in China’s nation-building process.
This book will appeal to Asian Studies scholars, as well as to anyone interested in the effects of nation-building on religious ritual, oral tradition, gender roles, and the representation of history.
We need to examine state expansion from the perspective of local societies and, with Chieftains into Ancestors, we now have the conceptual and methodological tools to do this. This is historical anthropology and micro-history at its best.
This is a fantastic and first-class collection, highly original in its combination of anthropological with historical approaches and marking a real contribution to understandings of social and cultural processes in southern China. Authored by some of the leading scholars in the field with an unparalleled knowledge of this subject, Chieftains into Ancestors is original and enlightening.
David Faure is Wei Lun Professor of History at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. His books include Emperor and Ancestor: State and Lineage in South China. Ho Ts'ui-p'ing is an associate research fellow at the Institute of Ethnology at Academia Sinica and an adjunct associate professor in the Institute of Anthropology at National Tsing Hua University. She is the co-editor of State, Market and Ethnic Groups Contextualized.
Contributors: Lian Ruizhi, Huang Shu-li, James Wilkerson, He Xi, Xie Xiaohui, Kao Ya-ning, and Zhang Yingqiang.
Introduction / David Faure
1 Reciting the Words as Doing the Rite: Language Ideology and Its Social Consequences in the Hmong’s Qhuab Kev (Showing the Way) / Huang Shu-li
2 Chief, God, or National Hero? Representing Nong Zhigao in Chinese Ethnic Minority Society / Kao Ya-ning
3 The Venerable Flying Mountain: Patron Deity on the Border of Hunan and Guizhou / Zhang Yingqiang
4 Surviving Conquest in Dali: Chiefs, Deities, and Ancestors / Lian Ruizhi
5 From Woman’s Fertility to Masculine Authority: The Story of the White Emperor Heavenly Kings in Western Hunan / Xie Xiaohui
6 The Past Tells It Differently: The Myth of Native Subjugation in the Creation of Lineage Society in South China / He Xi
7 The Tusi That Never Was: Find an Ancestor, Connect to the State / David Faure
8 The Wancheng Native Officialdom: Social Production and Social Reproduction / James Wilkerson
9 Gendering Ritual Community across the Chinese Southwest Borderland / Ho Ts’ui-p’ing
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