China’s Ethnic Metaculture: Its Power and Weirdness

Katherine Dimmery (Stanford University)

My ethnographic fieldwork in Black Rock, a Naxi ethnicity county of southwest China, began as a study of local writing practices but became an investigation of how researchers have, historically and still, misunderstood these practices. Such misunderstandings richly fulfill China’s conventionalized, “backward” portrayals of southwestern ethnic life—what I will call its ethnic metaculture. Observing that Black Rock people often help transmit these ideas, I emphasize the role of ethnic metaculture in national governance. At the same time, by inquiring into this metaculture’s weirdness (Davis 2019), I ask how it may afford new, subtle modes of art and sociality.

Part of 02-07 Minority Peoples, Expressive Culture, and Heritage in—and from—the Southeast Asian Massif, Part 2, Thursday, November 02, 10:30 am–12:30 pm