2020-2021 Colloquium Series
The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to present
The Art of (Not) Being Governed:
Village Governance and Tourism Development in a Miao Village in China
Dressed up in their traditional garments, the senior villagers sat by the village Tong Gu Chang (Bronze Drum Plaza), waiting for their turn to perform for the tourists in Upper Langde Village in Guizhou, China [盛装的年长村民坐在中国贵州郎德上寨的铜鼓场旁等候上场给游客表演].
Xianghong Feng, Associate Professor
Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Criminology,
Eastern Michigan University
Friday, April 9, 4PM-6PM PST
Hosted on Zoom [click here]
This research attempts to explicate a nuanced interaction between the ethnic minorities in southwest China and the Chinese state, centering on tourism development. The mountainous zone of southwest China is inhabited by ethnically diverse populations, including the Miao, who were historically independent from distant state centers. Nevertheless, despite the remoteness this region has become sites of active statecraft in the name of development, and tourism provides a unique lens to illuminate the power dynamics between these non-Han ethnic groups and the Chinese state in modern era. Through an ethnographic case centered on Upper Langde Miao village in Guizhou of China, this research looks at the meanings and significance of state practices for the villagers in a tourism context. It documents the transformation from Upper Langde’s self-governed to county-government-directed tourism and explains the seemingly radical changes from the villagers’ avoidance of the state to their recent desire, despite their distrust, for a just state to deliver the economic fruits of tourism development. Giving agency to those on the margins of the nation-state, this research applies a historical perspective to explore the “deeper roots” of Upper Landge resistance to the local government’s involvement in the village tourism. It distinguishes between one’s situational adoption of the dominant group’s cultural markers and a more subjective identification with an imagined Chinese political community.
Xianghong Feng (first from right) was interviewing a villager with a research assistant in Guizhou, China [丰向红(右一)和研究助手在中国贵州郎德上寨]
Xianghong Feng (丰向红) joined the faculty of Eastern Michigan University in 2010, after receiving a PhD in Anthropology in Washington State University and spending one year as a visiting professor at Ball State University. Through the lens of tourism, her research explores various social issues including power and scale, power and space, dominance and everyday resistance, social and gender inequality, and development and sustainability. She received her B.A (in Journalism) and M.A. (in Folklore) from Minzu University of China in Beijing. Prior to her doctoral training in anthropology, she worked as a journalist in Beijing. She infuses her passion for journalism into anthropology and enjoys the adventures in the field. She loves traveling, photographing, videotaping and reading and writing stories. She publishes peer-reviewed journal articles, and writes for the news media including The Paper (澎湃新闻). She has also published a book, Tourism and Prosperity in Miao Land: Power and Inequality in Rural Ethnic China (Lexington Books, 2017).