Invisible China: A Journey Through Ethnic Borderlands [NOOK Book]

Overview

"He's singing about how happy he is to be home," Teacher Ye explained as we sidestepped together. She had given up her cymbals to one of the children, and now was in the circle with the rest of us, leading the singing with her powerful voice. "He's a postman in the county seat. He and the others just came back from there on the electric mule." We swung our joined hands as we circled around the postman. "They aren't able to come home very often, so they're always very excited when they do get here. This song is very loose, so he can sing about
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Invisible China: A Journey Through Ethnic Borderlands

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Overview

"He's singing about how happy he is to be home," Teacher Ye explained as we sidestepped together. She had given up her cymbals to one of the children, and now was in the circle with the rest of us, leading the singing with her powerful voice. "He's a postman in the county seat. He and the others just came back from there on the electric mule." We swung our joined hands as we circled around the postman. "They aren't able to come home very often, so they're always very excited when they do get here. This song is very loose, so he can sing about anything he wants, and then the rest of us respond to him. That way the song is always from the heart."
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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly

This odyssey-spanning 14,000 miles in four months-details China's rich diversity in a narrative jeweled with dazzling descriptions but lacking analysis. Legerton and Rawson, graduate students in the region's language and history, meander along the Silk Road, reporting on various "hidden" minorities and gaining extraordinary access to people's lives and homes. However, they take much of what they are told at face value and provide only superficial analysis of their ambitious undertaking. This is unfortunate because their sources and observations speak directly to the intersection of politics and culture that came to the fore in the days before Beijing hosted the Olympic Games. It is only in the afterword that they make explicit the link between China's official party line on minorities and what they witnessed. Nor do they attempt to explain what forces maintained China's cohesion over the turbulent past half-century. Despite these structural weaknesses, this is a spectacular achievement reminiscent of early 20th-century anthropological monographs by Margaret Mead and Ruth Benedict, with much to charm readers in search of a travelogue on China's remote border and interior regions. (May)

Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Kirkus Reviews
Two American students of Asian cultures and languages chronicle their extensive travel through diverse, multiethnic regions of China. According to the Communist government, note debut authors Legerton and Rawson, China has 55 recognized ethnic minorities outside of the majority Han group, which makes up 90 percent of the total population. The remaining minority still incorporates 120 million people, organized into "autonomous areas" across China's vast landmass. The authors concentrate on these autonomous regions of the northeast, southwest and northwest, focusing on a dozen ethnic groups, their culture, way of life and language. Since Legerton and Rawson speak Mandarin, Uyghur and Korean, their conversations with locals seemed to glide along easily. They learned that the government allows the autonomous regions some advantages, such as exemption from the one-child policy; however, the ethnic residents are often denied passports and freedom to practice religious celebrations. The authors visited areas and peoples far and wide, including the ancestral forested hunting grounds of the northern Daur, Ewenki, Oroqen and Hezhen, where the residents are now prohibited from hunting; the thriving pockets of Koreans around White Head Mountain; the harsh terrain of the Inner Mongolians; the Kinh fishermen of the Gulf of Tonkin; the Wa people located near the Myanmar border; the self-profiting Naxis in the old-town architectural gem of Lijiang; the matrilineal society of the Mosuo on the shores of Lugu Lake; the Tibetans Buddhists; the Muslim Uyghurs and other Turkic peoples in the arid northwest. Legerton and Rawson even scouted out a legendary, nearly extinct group of Jews in Kaifeng. Theiryouthful discoveries reveal a marvelous tapestry of vibrant history and culture. An earnest, revealing travelogue.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781569762639
  • Publisher: Chicago Review Press, Incorporated
  • Publication date: 5/1/2009
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 256
  • Sales rank: 1,273,788
  • File size: 9 MB

Meet the Author

Colin Legerton graduated from Tufts University with a degree in Chinese language and literature. He spent a year in Urumqi studying Uyghur and mentoring western China’s only baseball team and later produced Diamond in the Dunes, a documentary film that tells their story. He has worked as a Chinese-English translator and is currently pursuing a master’s degree in Central Asian studies at Indiana University, with a focus on Uyghur literature.

 

Jacob Rawson has lived and studied in Yokohama and Beijing. After graduating from Lewis and Clark College with a degree in Chinese and Japanese languages, he taught at a high school in rural South Korea as a Fulbright fellow. Now back in the States, he has given presentations on China’s ethnic minorities and the Korean minority in Japan. He is working toward a master’s degree in Chinese and Korean linguistics at the University of Washington.

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Table of Contents

Acknowledgements vii

Authors' Note ix

Introduction i

I The Northeast

1 Hunters of the Hinterlands: The Oroqen, Daur, Ewenki, and Hezhen 17

2 Immigrants and Emigrants: The Koreans 43

3 The Windswept Kingdom: The Mongolians 61

II The Southwest

4 Fishermen of the South Sea: The Kinh 79

5 Valley of the Headhunters: The Wa 99

6 Selling Ethnicity: The Naxi 115

7 The Country of Daughters: The Mosuo 129

III The Northwest

8 Left Behind: The Dongxiang 147

9 Prayers on the Plateau: The Tibetans 161

10 The Sweltering Oasis: The Uyghurs 177

11 Yaks and Yurts: The Tajiks 195

IV The East

12 Chinese Jews? 211

13 Final Thoughts: A Day at the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park 219

Afterword 227

Selected Suggested Reading 233

Index 235

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