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Interweaving Ritual Meanings in Gouliang Miao Village

Author: YuHua
Tutor: WuZongJie; Flemming Christiansen
School: Zhejiang University
Course: English Language and Literature
Keywords: ritual as a mode of thinking indigenous Chinese ethnography recovering lost rituals in the field ambiguous ethnic identity
CLC: K892.26
Type: PhD thesis
Year: 2012
Downloads: 18
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Abstract


Based on the ethnographic study of the ritual performances in Gouliang Miao village, this dissertation attempts to search for the lost liin the field and break through the dichotomy of assimilation and resistance in approaching different cultures. Rather than an expression of cultural identity and social structure in the western episteme. ritual in this dissertation is studied and demonstrated as a mode of thinking that penetrated into every sphere of Chinese life. Ancient Chinese classics were offering an alternative way of thinking and mode of writing more than merely providing information. Developing an indigenous Chinese ethnography, this dissertation interweaves discursive fragments from interviews, field notes, historical archives and visual descriptions into the interpretation of the cultural phenomena. The phenomenological demonstration of the ritual space, the life of ritual specialists and the ritual performances in the funeral and wedding ceremonies combined with various Confucian texts in the past open up a vast space of interpretation of ritual culture in Gouliang village and the ritual traditions throughout history in the wider context of China. The complexity and fluidity of the living ritual in contemporary Miao village are mostly preserved in thick descriptions, which is beyond the limitation and dichotomy of Miao and Han. tradition and modernity, folk customs and elite culture. Social criticism is achieved in the thick descriptions and juxtaposition of discursive fragments from the past and the present. The source meaning of ritual was finally traced back to a hexagram guan in Ⅰ Ching. which explains the transformative power of ritual and its social importance. This research questions the existence of Miao as a separate and bounded ethnic minority by means of in-depth descriptions of the heterogeneous details in their ritual life. It shows the existence of an ambiguous form of identity’which cannot be clearly marked out or distinguished as what the botanists do to the classification of the vegetation and plant.

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CLC: > History, geography > Customs > Chinese customs and habits > A variety of custom specifically Chi > Etiquette,good manners
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