2018-2019 Colloquium Series
The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce
Re-imagining Ethnicity through Tourism Activities and Cultural Discourses: The Case of the Qiang People in China
Image credit: Jingui Zhang
Friday, April 19, 5:00pm - 7:00pm
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley
This talk tackles how ethnicity can be imagined and invented not only in tourism activities, but through the act of cultural writing, for ethnic minority groups in China. With fieldwork conducted in the Aba Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sichuan over many years, Yanshuo Zhang presents how cultural writing and discourses forge ethnic consciousness and solidarity among minority commoners and elites in China. Through both textual analysis and fieldwork, Zhang unveils how elite-created discourses of the Qiang's central place in Chinese civilization have given rise to a wave of historical tourism in Sichuan, attracting tourists from both mainland China and the Chinese diaspora. Contemporary Qiang scholars and local cultural historians are actively re-interpreting the myths and legends of Chinese civilization, placing the Qiang at the center of Chinese history and culture by claiming the Qiang to be an important progenitor of the Chinese people and the Qiang regions a crucial site of the "cradle of Chinese civilization." This talk illuminates how such elite-created discourses not only influence the everyday tourism activities conducted by minority villagers, but are powerful in shaping the ethnic pride and solidarity among minority members of the nation. By doing so, the talk traces the historical and discursive prowess of cultural discourses in fashioning tourism activities and sharpening ethnic consciousness in China's minority regions today.
Yanshuo Zhang teaches in the Program in Writing and Rhetoric at Stanford University. She received her PhD in Chinese literature from Stanford University in 2018. She is currently working on a book manuscript titled Beyond Minority: The Qiang and Ethnic Cultural Imagination in Modern China, which examines the relationship between ethnic cultural and literary discourses and the construction of a multicultural China by using the example of the Qiang, which is one of China's oldest ethnic imaginaries.