2015-2016 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group and the Center for Chinese Studies,
UC Berkeley, are pleased to present

A Mini Symposium

Friday, December 11, 5:00-7:00 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hall
University of California, Berkeley

"Mazu ceremony in the Mazu Cultural Tourism Festival." Resource: http://blog.ifeng.com/article/5545411.html

Revival of Popular Religion, Heritagization,
and Local Developmental Strategies in China's Tourism

Prof. Ming-chun Ku
(Associate Professor, Sociology, National Tsing Hua University)

This talk addresses how "religious cultures" related to popular religion in China are formulated into tourist attractions in the intertwining of religious revival, ICH listing, and local developmental projects. The case presented in this talk is about Mazu belief, which was once officially considered "feudal-and-superstitious" and forbidden in Mao's China yet has been revived since the late 1970s. Its cultural legitimacy is officially ensured by the inscription of ICH status (National ICH in 2006, and the UNESCO ICH in 2009). The revival religious rituals and ceremonies are now formalized in the form of "Mazu ceremony," which is the ICH item since 2006 and also the major attraction of the "Mazu Cultural Tourism Festival" organized by local government since 1994. In addition to the grand ceremonies, specific religious practices are chosen as a symbol of "Mazu culture," encompassing ICH safeguarding, pilgrimage, and ritual economies with local development. By the case of "Mazu culture," this talk also discusses the implications of canonization and formalization of popular religion in the context of the changing state-society relationships in transitional China.

Speaker Bio:
Ming-chun Ku is associate professor of Sociology at National Tsing Hua University,Taiwan and a visiting scholar at the Center for Chinese Studies, U.C.B. Her research interests include heritage politics, tourism, and social change in China. Her current project examines the cultural governance in post-Mao China, and the political-cultural implications of heritagization of popular religion.


A huge thangka showing Buddha is unveiled during Monlam or the Great Prayer rituals at the Labrang Monastery (Kevin Frayer/Getty Images)

The 30-year Interaction between Ethnic Art
and Tourism in a Tibetan village

Suo Nan Cuo
(PhD Candidate, Xiamen University
Visiting Scholar, Anthropology, UC Berkeley)

With the powerful current of the development of heritage and tourism, the small village of Wutun, where most families paint Thangkas, became very famous to outsiders. It is now undergoing an important renaissance of this tradition of religious painting. Wutun is located in the south region of Rebgong in Amdo, a Tibetan region near the eastern border of Qinghai Province, It is also is the homeland of anthropologist Suo Nan Cuo and who was raised there.

Over recent three decades, this small village has attracted tourists from all over the world to her quiet valley. Thangkas which once were hung high in religious sites in the old days into a kind of typical ethnic art of Rebgong Tibetans, and then gradually turned into symbolic souvenirs which tourists love to put into their travel bags.

After Suo Nan Cuo came here from China as a visiting scholar last year, she was inspired by Nelson Graburn's early studies of ethnic art and began to rethink her understanding of Rebgong Thangka and the culture of her homeland, even her own life experience as a Tibetan.

In this short paper, she will share with us three stories in her fieldwork. The first one is "Living Thangka: the Innovative Idea and Practice of Monk Jamyang Qunpei", the second one is "Thangka for Ceremony or Thangka for Consumption", and the last one is "Thangka in My Memory and in My Life". All the stories above focus on how Thangka and tourism changed the life and worldview of residents in Wutun. She hopes these will be helpful to improve and enrich our understandings of the heritage representation rights of indigenous people, the transformation possibilities and limits between ethnic art and tourism souvenirs, and most important, the meaning of ethnic art to those who create and care about it.

Speaker Bio:
Suo Nan Cuois a lecturer in Tibet University, Lhasa, a PhD Candidate at Xiamen University and now a visiting scholar in the Anthropology Department of UCB. She has been engaged in the study and practice of art design as well as documentary ethnic filming of Chinese for more than one decade. In recent years, she participated in the studies of Rebgong Thangka and kept working on her doctoral dissertation on this case. At the same time, she has participated in and completed an important design and exhibition program of Gendun Chopel Museum in Lhasa. Now she is about to carry on preparing another program of the Barley Museum in Lhasa.


Symposium Discussant:
Annie Malcolmis a PhD student in Anthropology at U. C. Berkeley. Her research focusses on art villages in China, specifically in Shenzhen, where original village houses and former factories are being converted into art studios instead of being demolished for development. She is interested in anthropological uses of art writing.


This event is co-sponsored by the Graduate Assembly, the Center for Chinese Studies, and the Townsend Center for the Humanities. For more information about this event, or about our ongoing colloquium series, write to tourism@berkeley.edu or visit us online at www.tourismstudies.org.

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