Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers

Paperback, 379 pages, English
Edited by Stevan Harrell
ISBN: 978-0-295-97528-3

The relations between China's dominant Han majority and the numerous smaller peoples who inhabit the broad periphery of China's territory have often been disputatious. This absolutely first-rate collection of scholarly essays by nine anthropologists and one political scientist focuses on the problem of ethnic definition and self-definition among China's peripheral peoples, including the Naxi, Yi, Miao, Mongols, and Manchus. Rejecting the usual catalog of static characteristics as the way to define a people, the authors see national definition as a contentious and negotiated process resulting in a fluid and evolving set of behaviors, customs, linguistic usage, etc. At the core of this process lie Han attempts to impose their values on others in the name of civilization and the struggle of peripheral peoples to resist, adapt, and survive. An important book for students of Chinese society.

For those interested in Hmong studies specifically, there are two chapters on the Hmong/Miao in this book. One by Norma Diamond entitled "Defining the Miao: Ming, Qing, and Contemporary Views" and the other chapter by Siu-woo Cheung entilted "Millenarianism, Christian Movements, and Ethnic  Change Among the Miao in Southwest China."