Review of Xiaolin Guo, State and Ethnicity in China’s Southwest

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  Reviews 󰀷󰀳 © 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀳  by University of Hawai‘i Press Handasyd Perkins, to name just a ew — lef a palpable mark on the U.S. economy, politics, and oreign relations, although the significance o the China market in total American exports to the world was minimal, less than 󰀰.󰀵 percent by the end o the nineteenth century.   An in-depth understanding o the role o this important interest group illuminates the dynamic beginnings o American nationalism in its rise rom a British colonial rontier to a global empire. Tis historical process had three distinct components, elements that have received scant attention in scholarly discussions o early United States–China relations. Te first was the conspicuous anti-British sentiment, an attitude that took many Americans a long time to discard. Te second was America’s conscious pursuit o national greatness as an independent country. Te third component was the entrepreneurial flexibil-ity shown by many American merchants; their ability to work within and around the cohong   system and cooperate with local Chinese helped American traders succeed as latecomers to the China trade.Goldstein’s work also points to the other major research gap, that is, the Chinese side o the story. Te enormous potential o the old China trade remained untapped on the Chinese side. In the late 󰀱󰀸󰀳󰀰s, the growing disparity between the Chinese economy — with a low level o capital accumulation and underdeveloped domestic industries — and the rapidly industrializing British manuacturing sector   eventually brought down the Canton system. Making ull use o the Qing court archives on the thirteen hongs and trade in Guangdong, Hong Kong, and Macao should give a powerul boost to English-language scholarship in this ascinating field.Dong Wang Dong Wang is a professorial senior fellow at the University of Duisburg-Essen in Germany. Her latest book is Te United States and China: A History rom the Eighteenth Century to the Present. Xiaolin Guo. State and Ethnicity in China’s Southwest.  China Studies, vol. 󰀱󰀵. Leiden: Brill Academic Publishers, 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀸. ix, 󰀳󰀴󰀶 pp. Hardcover 󰀤󰀱󰀴󰀹.󰀰󰀰, 󰁩󰁳󰁢󰁮 󰀹󰀷󰀸-󰀹󰀰-󰀰󰀴-󰀱󰀶󰀷󰀷󰀵-󰀹. State and Ethnicity in China’s Southwest is an ambitious volume that examines statecraf and local politics rom multiple perspectives dating rom the Nanzhao era (󰀷󰀳󰀸–󰀹󰀰󰀲) to the mid-󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀰s, emphasizing fluidity and pragmatic adaptation o both those being governed and those attempting to influence their lives. Over the  󰀷󰀴 China Review International: Vol. 󰀱󰀹, No. 󰀱, 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀲 centuries discussed in the book, the interplay between the Chinese state, in its  varying incarnations; its regional representatives; and those dwelling in mountain-ous regions o present-day northwest Yunnan and environs receives explicit attention. Te book rerames discussions o ethnicity to include a more state- centered analysis, looking at both ethnic minorities and Han communities, one o the first volumes to examine state unction in this area o China. While not the only ethnography ocusing explicitly on the state in this region (Erik Mueggler’s Te Age of Wild Ghosts  [󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀱] comes to mind, 󰀱  as does Tomas Mullaney’s recent publication Coming to erms with the Nation [󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀱] 󰀲 ), this is the first to cast its ocus with equal intensity on historical interactions and contemporary ethnic politics. Unlike the many single-group ethnographies o ethnicity in Southwest China, Guo’s work is explicitly comparative, both temporally and geographically. 󰀳 Te study is at the nexus o political science and anthropology, grounded in historical anthropology. Tis leads to both positive outcomes and challenges. Te author’s careul consultation o archival materials, gazetteers, and contemporary Chinese scholarship offers a strong contribution to understandings o the way early ethnic policies played out. She repositions ethnicity policy as part o a larger set o continuous state approaches to the problem o political integration, not an attempt at Sinicization, regardless o the particular governing authority. While historians may take issue with this generalization, noting distinctions rom one era and one reign to the next in terms o minority policies, scholars o the southwest will appreciate the argument in part because it emphasizes the limited knowledge o, and engagement with, most smaller groups by the central state. Tis means that until the twentieth century, government engagements varied less than previously assumed.Guo astutely points out that Han identity should be seen not as a stark opposi-tion to ethnic minority identity, as is ofen assumed, but rather interpreted as “political power or economic dominance rather than to ethnic membership per se — it thus included individuals whose standing was perceived by the local com-munity as markedly different rom the local majority, irrespective o their ethnic backgrounds” ( p. 󰀶󰀷). By way o example, she describes literate Naxi and Bai, whose social mobility and power meant that Nu people, another one o the diverse region’s ethnic groups, took them or Han. Acculturation proceeded unevenly in the complex circumstances o Yunnan, where in some areas Han or other new-comers assimilated completely, and in others assimilation was prevented by local endogamy rules, as in the Cold Mountain Yi areas. Guo argues cogently or a place-based understanding o ethnicity inormed as much by ecology and geogra-phy as by social structures and superficial ethnic markers. Case Studies of Mosuo and Han ownships Guo deserves praise or her detailed analysis o kinship, social structure, and economy in two areas: the Tree River Basin, a ertile area whose history as the site  Reviews 󰀷󰀵 o a Ming-era garrison is still evident in its predominately Han ethnic makeup (an anomaly within an area o ethnic diversity), and the unortunately titled yet worthy chapter on “Te Land o Women,” home to the group known today as Mosuo and Mongol. Following these two chapters are portraits o the counties that today encompass the Tree River Basin and part o “Te Land o Women,” Yongsheng, and Ninglang. Tese benefit rom wonderully candid interviews with government officials o those counties, whose remarks enliven the discussion o local-regional-national policies (although the discussion lacks the perspectives o villagers).Te chapters that sketch out kinship and economy in “Te Land o Women” and the Tree River Basin reflect some methodological weaknesses o the vast scope, revealing partial understandings that longer-term fieldwork in a single site would likely remedy. First, Guo assumes that the current inhabitants are the direct descendants o the Qiangic peoples o the matrilineal Nü Guo ( 女国 ) ( p. 󰀸󰀹). Tis assumption is problematic because it assumes not the fluidity that she emphasizes elsewhere, but a fixity in population and essentiality in cultural traits that do not reflect contemporary anthropological ideas o culture and ethnicity. Second, the assumption o Nü Guo srcins reflects Guo’s uncritical use o certain sources without evaluating their veracity, a problem ound throughout the book. For example, as evidence or her ethnographic descriptions o Mosuo culture, she quotes extensively rom the admirable yet amateur botanist-explorer-ethnographer Joseph Rock, whose claims must be careully assessed or credibility and context. (His erroneous claim that the same term is used or ather and mother’s brother, and that no term or ather exists, is reproduced unquestioningly on p. 󰀱󰀳󰀷. One would think that Guo’s own fieldwork in the region would have revealed the term ada or ather. 󰀴 ) Tird, transcriptions deriving rom ibetan and Mandarin pro-nunciations rather than Naru (the Mosuo language) and constant reerences to language use and shif to evince ethnic connectedness are problematic. Claims that Qiangic srcins are reinorced by the existence o household guard dogs and the husbandry o certain animals, such as pigs ( p. 󰀱󰀴󰀸), are equally problematic. (Are these not widespread beyond Qiangic populations?)Finally, Guo is quick to dismiss the term haixiu wenhua (culture o bashul-ness), coined by sociologist Zhou Huashan, despite its correspondence to the Naru concept shudo ( pp. 󰀱󰀳󰀳–󰀱󰀳󰀵). Not merely something to tell visiting ethnographers as a way o conorming to contemporary, externally influenced ideas o sexual modesty, shudo is a central principle that conceals romantic entanglements and permits adult siblings to reside together while avoiding talk o relationships. Apparently unaware o the term shudo,  Guo strangely criticizes both the idea and the coinage o the Chinese-language term haixiu wenhua:  “Te construction o a model by way o labeling a superficial phenomenon to embody a system or institu-tion, or even more obscurely, culture, seldom explains anything deeper than the term itsel” ( p. 󰀱󰀳󰀴). aken together, these ethnographic errors and uneven assess-ment o sources detract rom the overall quality o the book.  󰀷󰀶 China Review International: Vol. 󰀱󰀹, No. 󰀱, 󰀲󰀰󰀱󰀲 Similarly, problems exist with Guo’s discussion o Han practices in the Tree River basin. While the ethnography o a historically Han area in northwest Yunnan makes a strong contribution to the ethnography o a place usually studied or its ethnic minorities — with particular strength in the discussion o uxorilocal mar-riage ( pp. 󰀱󰀹󰀱–󰀱󰀹󰀲) and o zhaipo,  unmarried women who remain in their natal home and enjoy amilial veneration ( pp. 󰀱󰀹󰀳–󰀱󰀹󰀷) — it seems unnecessary to establish that Han ritual and marital practices in this part o China differ rom those in southeastern China. Perhaps at the time o the author’s 󰀱󰀹󰀹󰀲 dissertation fieldwork, this point needed to be made, but the recent wave o scholarship on the Han (e.g., Critical Han Studies ) 󰀵 and the diversity o ethnographies o Han amily orms should make this point less important. For any readers who assume the national unity and homogeneity o the Han ethnic group, the chapter will offer an important counterexample. On the other hand, it will reinorce the perspective o those who understand the Han group to be a constructed identity. o what degree local customs bear the influence o the gender-flexible systems prevalent near the Tree River Basin Han (who ofen intermarry) is open to interpretation. Ethnicity and Governance at the County Level  Te richness o the book lies in its nuanced portrait o governance in a multi-ethnic region, especially in light o the sudden fixity that Communist admini-strative strategies gave. Normally fluid ethnic borders, as with mobile Yi populations who had recently migrated rom the Greater Cold Mountains in Sichuan, were rozen by attempts in the 󰀱󰀹󰀵󰀰s at consolidating power in the turbulent Yunnan-Sichuan-ibet border regions. Guo recounts how territories historically controlled by Mosuo native chiefains were administratively relin-quished to Yi with the goal o placating this later, recently rebelling group. Tus emerged an autonomous Yi county (Ninglang) and a continuum o classifications: ibetan-Pumi-Mosuo and Mosuo-Naxi-Mongol, depending on the circumstances and the political imperatives ( pp. 󰀵󰀱–󰀵󰀴, 󰀲󰀱󰀴–󰀲󰀱󰀶). Borders were careully drawn and redrawn to minimize potential conflict and opposition to the state. (Despite the population size, an autonomous Yi region was never established, something Guo attributes to its lack o national representation as well as its rebellious poten-tial [p. 󰀴󰀶].)Although Guo recounts how kinship obligations influence government post procurement and intragovernmental relationships, she understates the effect o ethnicity on local government administration ( p. 󰀲󰀳󰀴). Afer discussing the preva-lence o Yi raids in basin villages to capture children, crops, and livestock during the late Qing and Republican eras (the captured children were then sold as slaves and seldom recovered by their natal amilies), Guo states simply, “Tis experience is at the core o Han-Yi community relations on the Yunnan rontier” ( p. 󰀱󰀶󰀶). Other communities also elt the effects o Yi raids, and this not-so-distant memory  Reviews 󰀷󰀷 continues to color ethnic politics in northwest Yunnan, particularly in the multi-ethnic autonomous Yi county o Ninglang. Resentments over Yi bias in unding allocations and work prioritization are rampant in present-day Ninglang, as the author o this review has observed firsthand.Te comparisons o contemporary Ninglang and Yongsheng Counties are particularly interesting when Guo discusses their respective approaches to poverty alleviation and what she terms “administered development” ( pp. 󰀹󰀳–󰀹󰀴). Her ascinating analysis explains why, amid changing fiscal policies, the revenues o the current county-level governments in the 󰀱󰀹󰀹󰀰s and early 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀰s have been so much lower than the operating budgets supplied to them by the state, and why that discrepancy is growing rather than shrinking. First, Ninglang County’s status as an autonomous Yi county entitled it to certain preerential policies and economic support that the undesignated, Han-dominated Yongsheng County did not receive. Second, afer the orestry boom in northwest Yunnan was definitively halted as a source o Ninglang county government revenue ollowing the post-Yangtze-flooding logging ban in 󰀱󰀹󰀹󰀸, the central government responded by supplementing the Ninglang County budget with compensatory subsidies. Added to their subsidies as a nationally designated poverty-stricken area, which increased urther afer the develop-the-west campaigns began in 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀱, this meant the county government depended almost exclusively on national financing. Although the number o poverty-stricken individuals in the county did not diminish, the county govern-ment benefited: by 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀱, Ninglang County boasted twice the number o official  vehicles as Yongsheng ( p. 󰀲󰀵󰀱). Guo, thereore, writes, “Development in Ninglang has relied not on avorable economic conditions but rather on a lack o such conditions” ( p. 󰀲󰀴󰀹).Mindul o the political possibilities o poverty, county leaders in Yongsheng, once among the most productive agricultural territories in Yunnan during an earlier era but with significant inequality between basin- and mountain-dwelling territories, lobbied or the lucrative designation o poverty-stricken county and attained it in 󰀲󰀰󰀰󰀱 ( pp. 󰀳󰀰󰀸–󰀳󰀰󰀹). Teir previous attempts at cash-crop coercion through orcing villagers to cultivate tobacco had come to a halt when preerential fiscal policies ended in the 󰀱󰀹󰀹󰀰s, limiting their ability to retain revenues and collect ees ( p. 󰀳󰀰󰀵). Conversely, Guo quotes local administrators who explain, “Te name o poverty-stricken county may be awul sounding, but the hat really keeps one warm” ( 贫困帽很难听,带着很温暖 ) ( p. 󰀱󰀰󰀱).Guo leaves analysis o the implications or local government subservience to national political projects in this dependent economic relationship as a task or uture scholars. In general, many theoretical implications o her detailed empirical research remain to be engaged. Te meticulous accounts o labor, economy, ethnicity, ecology, and policy can be considered a treat or scholars o this rapidly changing region, but the missed opportunities or trenchant analysis stand out. Despite its flaws, Guo’s text offers a substantial contribution to the scholarship o
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