‘Everybody Likes Houses. Even Birds Are Coming!’
- 690 Downloads
This chapter discusses the trend visible amongst Tibetan pastoralists of Golok Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in Qinghai Province, China, to invest increasing amounts of money in building houses upon their winter grazing lands. It reveals the beginnings of this phenomenon and brings data on the newest state policies aimed at encouraging the pastoralist population to construct houses. Analysis of successive waves of house construction is accompanied by a discussion of the reasons pastoralists themselves give for building new houses. The chapter analyses the roles which the houses play in the lives of their owners and discusses whether or not the pastoralists perceive the living in houses as conflicting with their self-image.
KeywordsPastoralists Sedentarization Resettlement Tibet
I owe my thanks to Hermann Kreutzmann and Toni Huber for their encouragement to contribute to this volume and generous help with giving this paper its final look. I also thank Sodnamkyid and Aku Suoba for their help with gathering material, Emily Yeh for sharing her book manuscript, Melvyn Goldstein, Andreas Gruschke and Daniel Winkler for keeping an academic ‘hotline’ with me throughout my work, my colleagues Diana Altner and Jarmila Ptackova for sharing their field experiences, Gabriel Lafitte for his positive feedback, Huadan Zhaxi for his linguistic consultations, Roman Frąckowski for finding even the most inaccessible literature in the United States libraries, Jens Albrecht and Mariusz Grzęda for help with the illustrations, and my students at Humboldt University in Berlin for discussions which shaped the structure of this chapter. As always, I am very indebted to the Rosa und Antoni Stiftung—without its support I would not be able to accomplish my work.
1.Tibetan words are given in approximate phonetic rendering, reflecting the dialect of the study area, and followed by their transliteration according to the Wylie system. Chinese words are preceded by ‘Chin’.
2.In 2008, Domkhok had 1812 residents dispersed over nearly 780 km² of rugged terrain; MSY (2009: 11).
3.Tsowa refers to groups inhabiting large territories and claiming origins from a distant common ancestor. Tsowa should, theoretically speaking, split into a number of dewa, due to historical and demographic developments. Both terms are translated as ‘tribe’. For more, see Levine (n.d.).
4.For more information about ‘outer’ and ‘inner’ tribes, see Gelek (1998: 51).
5.The Herders Association (Chin. mumin weiyuanhui) is an administrative body in the township. It was created from the former production brigades and corresponds to ‘village’ (Chin. cun), albeit existing in the pastoral context. At the time which is being discussed here, the Herders Association drew its budget from one main source: caterpillar fungus-gathering fees, which collectors coming to the township had to pay.
6.For more information about Xueshan in the mid 1990s, cf. Goldstein (1996).
7.Dadui and xiaodui are Chinese translations for Tibetan richen (ru chen) and richung (ru chung), being administrative divisions under the township level. The terms translated as ‘production brigade’ and ‘production team’ come from the people’s commune period and are still used by local inhabitants.
8.This is different from what Diana Altner observed in the TAR, where villagers at Yamdrok Lake (Yar ‘brog mtsho) razed their old houses to build new ones on the same sites (Altner 2009).
9.The same was reported from Yushu TAP (Dzartod County/rDza stod); Daniel Winkler, email communication, 30 May 2011.
10.Fencing can certainly be seen as an intervention of a political nature, although my informants expressed enthusiasm about it. For a discussion of different opinions about fencing, cf. Bauer 2005. One may wonder if fencing houses with concrete walls will stir similar debates and how the new walls might impact the shape of community life. Since they are only presently appearing in Golok, one has a unique chance to compare attitudes towards them today with those in several years time.
11.This is more that what is paid in similar programmes in the TAR, where values between 15,000 yuan and a little over 24,000 yuan were noted (Yeh 2011: 305; Goldstein et al. 2010: 67). Pastoralists in Kakhok (rKa khog) County, Sichuan Province, received grants of 20,000 yuan (Ptackova 2011: 7). In Cigdril (gCig sgril) County, Golok TAP, these grants amounted to only 6,000 yuan in the beginning of the programme’s implementation and were raised subsequently.
12.It was reported from other parts of Golok and from the TAR that more households wanted to receive subsidies than the existing funds allowed (Goldstein et al. 2010: 63). The programme could thus be limited to newly wed couples, or the households were chosen by drawing lots.
13.This connection between higher security levels and voluntary sedentarization has been made for the Bedouin of Israel; Medzini (1998: 60).
14.In contrast to houses sitting in the pastoralists’ winter quarters, those in county towns, townships, or resettlement villages are subject to complicated trade exchanges.
15.‘Chinese (rgya) furniture’, similar to ‘Chinese clothes’, refers to mass-produced goods of rather ‘Western’ style and in fact lacking any ‘Chineseness’ which one might anticipate from a product carrying such a name. Any modern clothing or furniture, lacking Tibetan features, is thus ‘Chinese’ in the local context.
- Altner D (2009) Die Verkleinerung der Yakhautboote. Fischerkulturen in Zentral- und Südtibet im sozioökonomischen Wandel des modernen China. Harrassowitz, WiesbadenGoogle Scholar
- Bourdieu P (2005) The social structures of the economy. Polity, CambridgeGoogle Scholar
- Clarke GE (1988) China’s reforms of Tibet, and their effects on Pastoralism, Kailash. J Himalayan Stud 14(1–2):63–132Google Scholar
- Gelek (1998) The Washu Serthar. A nomadic community of eastern Tibet. In: Clarke G (ed) Development, society and environment in Tibet. Verlag der Österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften, Vienna, pp 47–58Google Scholar
- Goldstein MC (1996) Nomads of Golok, Qinghai. A report. http://www.case.edu/affil/tibet/tibetanNomads/books.htm. Accessed 27 Sept 2010
- Goldstein MC, Beall CM (1990) Nomads of western Tibet. The survival of a way of life. University of California Press, BerkeleyGoogle Scholar
- Goldstein MC, Childs G, Wangdui P (2010) Beijing’s “people first” development initiative for the Tibet autonomous region’s rural sector. A case study from the Shigatse area. China J 63:58–75Google Scholar
- Gruschke A (2008) Nomads without Pastures? Globalization, regionalization, and livelihood security of Nomads and Former Nomads in Northern Khams. J Int Asso Tibetan Stud 4. http://www.thlib.org/collections/texts/jiats/#jiats=/04/gruschke/. Accessed 27 Sept 2010
- GTH (2010) Guoluo zhou tuimu huancao gongcheng jingshi chengxiao xianzhe (Guoluo Prefecture’s Tuimu huancao construction program is a remarkable success). http://www.guoluo.gov.cn. Accessed 2 Sept 2010
- Khazanov AM (1998) Pastoralists in the contemporary World. The problem of survival. In: Ginat J, Khazanov AM (eds) Changing nomads in a changing world. Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, pp 7–23Google Scholar
- Kopytoff I (2003) The cultural biography of things. Commoditization as a process. In: Appadurai A (ed) The social life of things. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, pp 64–91Google Scholar
- Levine N (n.d.) Reconstructing tradition: persistence and change in Golog social structure. http://www.case.edu/affil/tibet/booksAndPapers/Segpaper.htm?nw_view=1307345682&. Accessed 6 June 2011
- Levine N (1999) Cattle and the cash economy: responses to change among Tibetan nomadic pastoralists in Sichuan, China. Hum Organ 58:161–72Google Scholar
- Manderscheid A (2002) Revival of a nomadic lifestyle: a survival strategy for Dzam Thang’s pastoralists. In: Huber T (ed) Amdo Tibetans in transition: society and culture in the post-Mao era. Brill, Leiden, pp 271–289Google Scholar
- Medzini A (1998) Bedouin settlement policy in Israel, 1964–1996. In: Ginat J, Khazanov AM (eds) Changing Nomads in a changing world. Sussex Academic Press, Brighton, pp 58–67Google Scholar
- MQ (2005) Maqin xian zhi (Annals of Maqin County). Qinghai Renmin Chubanshe, XiningGoogle Scholar
- MSY (2009) Guomin jingji he shehui fazhan tongji ziliao huibian 2008 (Statistical yearbook on people’s economic and social development 2008). Maqin xian tongjiju, TawuGoogle Scholar
- Olson P (1998) My dam is bigger than yours. Emulation in global capitalism. In: Brown D (ed) Thorsten Veblen in the twenty-first century. A commemoration of the “theory of the leisure class” (1989–1999). Edward Elgar Publishing, Cheltenham, pp 189–207Google Scholar
- Ptackova J (2010) The sedentarization process in Tibetan nomadic areas of Qinghai, China. Mongolo-Tibetica Pragensia 10:155–180Google Scholar
- Ptackova J (2011) Sedentarization of Tibetan nomads in China: implementation of the nomadic settlement project in the Tibetan Amdo area; Qinghai and Sichuan provinces. Pastor Res Policy Prac 1(4). http://www.pastoralismjournal.com/content/pdf/2041–7136–1–4.pdf. Accessed 30 May 2011
- Roerich G (1958) Le Parler de’l Amdo. Étude d’un Dialecte Archaïque du Tibet. Instituto Italiano per il Medio ed Estremo Oriente, RomaGoogle Scholar
- Salzman PC, Galaty JG (1990) Nomads in a changing world: issues and problems. In: Salzman PC, Galaty JG (eds) Nomads in a changing world. Instituto Universitario Orientale, Naples, pp 3–21Google Scholar
- Sodnamkyid (2008) The implementation of a resettlement development project: socio-economic changes accompanying the transition from Nomadic to Town Life in Sogrima Town, Western China. M.A. Thesis in International Studies, Miriam College, Quenzon City, PhilippinesGoogle Scholar
- Sułek ER (2009) In the land of checkpoints. Yartsa gunbu business in Golok 2007, a preliminary report from the field. In: Dotson B, Gurung KN, Halkias G, Myatt T (eds) Contemporary visions in Tibetan studies. Proceedings of the first international seminar of young Tibetologists. Serindia, Chicago, pp 15–44Google Scholar
- Sułek ER (2010a) Disappearing Sheep. The unexpected consequences of the emergence of the Caterpillar Fungus economy in Golok, Qinghai, China. Himalaya. J Assoc Nepal Himalayan Stud 30(1–2):7–22Google Scholar
- Sułek ER (2010b) The Wranakhs. A story of discovering and forgetting the Tibetan tribes of Amnye Machen. In: Bareja-Starzyńska A, Majkowski F, Rogala J, Tulisow J (eds) Altaica et Tibetica. A volume in honour of Prof. S. Godziński on his 70th Birthday. Rocznik Orientalistyczny (Warsaw) 63(1):237–252Google Scholar
- Tenzin D (2010) The last Nomad: can Tibetan nomads survive China’s ethnocide? Presentation at a conference: pure Earths? The environmental challenges facing Tibet in the twenty-first century, 15 Apr 2011. School of Oriental and African Studies, LondonGoogle Scholar
- Veblen T (1987) The theory of the leisure class. Penguin, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Yeh ET (2011) Development as gift: state incorporation and landscape transformation in Tibet. Unpublished manuscriptGoogle Scholar