Portraits of Primitives: Ordering Human Kinds in the Chinese Nation / Edition 1

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Overview

Ethnicity is a highly politicized issue in contemporary China. Twentieth-century nation-building has been intimately involved with classification of ChinaOs fifty-five ethnic minorities and with fostering harmony and unity among nationalities. Officially sanctioned social science classifies the majority group, the so-called Han, at the pinnacle of modernization and civilization and most other groups as Oprimitive.O In post-socialist China, popular conceptions of self, person, and nation intersect with political and scholarly concerns with identity, sometimes contradicting them and sometimes reinforcing them. In Portraits of OPrimitives,O Susan D. Blum explores how Han in the city of Kunming, in southwest China, regard ethnic minorities and, by extension, themselves. She sketches Oportraits,O or cognitive prototypes, of ethnic groups in a variety of contexts, explaining the perceived visibility of each group (which almost never correlates with size of population). Ideas of OHannessO can be understood in part through Han desire to identify unique characteristics in ethnic minorities and also through Han celebration of the differences that distance minorities. The book considers questions of identity, alterity, and self in the context of a complex nation-state, employing methods from linguistic anthropology and psychological anthropology, as well as other forms of cultural analysis. Providing nuanced views of relationships among political, scholarly, and popular models of identity, this book will be an invaluable guide for those working in China studies, anthropology, and ethnic studies.
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Editorial Reviews

Journal Of The Royal Anthropological Institute
...frequently both charming and insightful.
China Journal
The book's strength lies in its ethnographic material. Western scholars have often paid attention to how Han Chinese talk about ethnic minorities, but until Blum, no one bothered to systematically investigate Han views.
Choice
Blum not only provides a unique study of majority Chinese attitudes towards minority groups, but also explains modern anthropological theories of ethnicity in a wonderfully readable way. This well-done and workmanlike study not only provides an excellent account of ethnic stereotyping in south China; it also would be an ideal case study to use in classes in ethnicity. Recommended for all levels, and for collections in contemporary China, ethnicity and identity, and stereotypes and the social construction of belief systems.
Journal of Asian Studies
For examining issues of difference, identity, stereotypes, and cognition, the book will prove useful to scholars and students alike.
China Quarterly
Portraits of 'Primitives' tells a story with which we are in various ways familiar, but which has never yet been told with such clarity and thoroughness.
CHOICE
Blum not only provides a unique study of majority Chinese attitudes towards minority groups, but also explains modern anthropological theories of ethnicity in a wonderfully readable way. This well-done and workmanlike study not only provides an excellent account of ethnic stereotyping in south China; it also would be an ideal case study to use in classes in ethnicity. Recommended for all levels, and for collections in contemporary China, ethnicity and identity, and stereotypes and the social construction of belief systems.
Journal Of Asian Studies
For examining issues of difference, identity, stereotypes, and cognition, the book will prove useful to scholars and students alike.
Dru Gladney
This is the first thoroughgoing study of Han perspectives about minorities. A very important contribution to our understanding of Chinese society and ethnicity in general.
Booknews
Ethnicity is a highly politicized issue among contemporary China's 55 ethnic minorities. The Han are officially sanctioned as the pinnacle of modernization and civilization, while most other groups are categorized as primitive. Blum (anthropology, University of Notre Dame) explores how Han in the city of Kunming, China, regard ethnic minorities and themselves. She describe cognitive prototypes of ethnic groups, explaining the perceived visibility of each group and considering questions of identity, alterity, and self in the context of a complex nation-state. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780742500921
  • Publisher: Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc.
  • Publication date: 12/28/2000
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 256
  • Product dimensions: 5.76 (w) x 9.04 (h) x 0.62 (d)

Meet the Author

Susan D. Blum is associate professsor of anthropology at the University of Notre Dame.
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Table of Contents

Part 1 Part I: Ethnicity in Context Chapter 2 Introduction: Against Authenticity: Self, Identity, and Nation-Building Chapter 3 Fieldwork in Kunming: Cognitive and Linguistic Anthropological Approaches Chapter 4 Desire for Difference: Cognitive Prototypes of Ethnic Identity Chapter 5 China’s Minorities Through Han Eyes: A Preliminary Sketch Part 6 Part II: Prototypes of Otherness Chapter 7 The Fetishized Ethnic Other: The Dai Chapter 8 Resistant, Disliked Ethnic Others: Wa, Zang, and Hui Chapter 9 Colorful, Harmless Ethnic Others: Naxi and Yi Chapter 10 Almost Us: The Bai Next Door Chapter 11 Conclusion: Typification and Identity in a Complex Nation-State
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