Chieftains into Ancestors: Imperial Expansion and Indigenous Society in Southwest China (Contemporary Chinese Studies)

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9780774823692: Chieftains into Ancestors: Imperial Expansion and Indigenous Society in Southwest China (Contemporary Chinese Studies)
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Chinese history has always been written from a centrist viewpoint. Telling the story of a quintessential Chinese culture that spread uniformly from the administrative heartland to the previously untamed periphery, official records have largely ignored the local histories of the country's conquered peoples, preserved for generations in the form of oral tradition through myths, legends, and religious rituals. The history of southwestern China, a region known today for its minority character, is the subject of this volume. In Chieftains into Ancestors, the authors describe the intersection of imperial administration and chieftain-dominated local culture. Since the acceptance of a new socio-political structure never happens overnight, they observe local rituals against the backdrop of extant written records, focusing on examples from the southwestern Hunan, Guangxi, Yunnan, and southwestern Guangdong provinces. The authors contemplate the crucial question of how one can begin to write the history of a conquered people whose past has been largely wiped out. Combining anthropological fieldwork with historical textual analysis, they dig deep for the indigenous voice as they build a new history of China's southwestern region - one that recognises the ethnic, religious, and gendered transformations that took place in China's nation-building process.

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We need to examine state expansion from the perspective of local societies and, with Chieftains into Ancestors, we now have the conceptual and methodological tools to do this. This is historical anthropology and micro-history at its best. (John E. Herman, author of Amid the Clouds and Mist: China’s Colonization of Guizhou, 1200-1700)

This is a fantastic and first-class collection, highly original in its combination of anthropological with historical approaches and marking a real contribution to understandings of social and cultural processes in southern China. Authored by some of the leading scholars in the field with an unparalleled knowledge of this subject, Chieftains into Ancestors is original and enlightening. (Nicholas Tapp, author of The Hmong of China: Context, Agency and the Imaginary)

Book Description:








This volume combines anthropological fieldwork with historical
textual analysis to build a new regional history that documents the
ethnic, religious, and gendered transformations arising from imperial
China’s nation-building process.




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