2015-2016 Colloquium Series


The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce
 
THE AMBIVALENCE OF HERITAGE:
Objectification, Commodification,
and Loss of Cultural Resources (Yunnan, China)

Stéphane Gros
(Researcher, Centre for Himalayan Studies,
Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique)

Friday, March 25, 5:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley
 
Abstract:
It has generally been acknowledged that China's so-called "minority nationalities" are the focus of sustained attention not only with regards their economic and social integration but also with what their rich and varied cultural resources have to offer in terms of tourism development and cultural promotion. In this presentation I focus on the Drung (Dulong) of Yunnan province whose New Year's ritual became an officially recognized "festival" under the Chinese name Kaquewa and was then listed in the national inventory of intangible cultural heritage, even though the Drung people no longer practice this today. Elsewhere I have explored the particular context in which this ceremony died out and its brief resurgence following a process of negotiation between villagers and local leaders. In this presentation, while commenting on this particular context that inevitably led the parties involved to reconstruct elements of their "culture," I further analyze the phenomenon of objectification. The discourse community members hold about their own traditions and the problem of transmission and loss lie at the very heart of my inquiry which aims to go beyond the criticism of folklorization as an ideological will to rebuild lost traditions or to invent new ones. I set out to bring to light a form of ambivalence towards heritage, linked to the tension that exists between the desire for knowledge and the wish to destroy or to leave it to fade into oblivion, between the desire for conservation and for change.

Speaker Bio:
Stéphane Gros (Ph.D. Paris - Nanterre University, 2005) is a social anthropologist, researcher at the Centre for Himalayan Studies, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (C.N.R.S., France). He has published a monograph entitled La Part Manquante (Société d'ethnologie, 2012) on the Drung (Dulong) of Northwest Yunnan province, China, and a number of articles on issues of interethnic relations and ethnic classification, representations of ethnic minorities, poverty and categorization. He is Principal Investigator for a European-Research-Council-funded project on the Sino-Tibetan Borderlands (2012-2016), and has served as Managing Editor (2011-2014) and is now Editor-at-Large for the open-access anthropology journal Hau: Journal of Ethnographic Theory.

 
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