Ethnic communities in China demonstrate their ethnicity, as defined by those acting in the name of the state, in ways that state officials at various levels have not anticipated. The state, so to speak, acts to define ethnic groups, but then ethnicities can create their own interpretation of what their ethnic identity means, which ultimately affects the states agenda. Nevertheless, the stories of this sort are not always beautiful, and noticeably different feelings are often registered toward the same stories. These various feelings may come from actors in different positions and perspectives. They may also come from the same actor facing different people, issues, or events. The seemingly monolithic state, represented by officials, cadres, and the system of ruling, manages this disarray of feelings and judgments by uniting them into a few specific discourses to keep otherwise potentially disintergrated local narratives from emerging. Although the officially approved discourses on Chinese ethnicity never incorporate all of them at the same time, frequent visits to the villages enabled the interviewer to summarize them into a grand hegemony of Chinese multiple ethnicities.


Local Community Ethnic Identity Central Authority Ethnic Community National Unity 
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© Chih-yu Shih 2007

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  • Chih-yu Shih

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