2015-2016 Colloquium Series

The Tourism Studies Working Group is pleased to announce

In Search of Authenticity in Lijiang

Yujie Zhu
(Postdoctoral Research Fellow, Australian National University)

Friday, Nov. 24, 5:15 PM
Gifford Room, 221 Kroeber Hal
University of California, Berkeley
This talk offers an in-depth ethnography of the Naxi Wedding Courtyard, a local business established in Lijiang, China in 2006. The Naxi Wedding Courtyard arranges for traditional ethnic Naxi-style wedding celebrations by religious specialists for tourists, Han immigrants and local Naxi people. This study examines how the enterprise can serve a number of different purposes: it helps local authorities and investors to develop their political and economic agendas; it fulfills the imaginaries of romance held by Han Chinese tourists and immigrants; and it displays the traditional religious identity of the Dongba specialist. The ethnography of the Naxi Wedding Courtyard provides an explanation of the spirit of modern consumerism in contemporary China. This study argues that Chinese dissatisfaction with the urban mundane can lead to the rise of individualism and the development of a romanticized interest in the natural, ethnic and spiritual, and in a search for authenticity.

Speaker Bio:
Yujie Zhu is currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow in the Australian Centre on China in the World, Australian National University. His main research interests include the politics of heritage and the interplay between heritage and tourism. His ethnographic fieldwork so far has focused on the western region of China, especially Yunnan, Sichuan, Guizhou and Shaanxi. His recent publications include International Journal of Heritage Studies and Annals of Tourism Research. Since 2013, he has served as the Vice Chair of the Commission on the Anthropology of Tourism in the International Union of Anthropological and Ethnological Sciences (IUAES).

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