Performing Ethnicity: Politics of Representation in Multi-Ethnic Guilin

  • Chih-yu Shih


Ethnicity is meaningful only if there are symbolic representations of it through people, things, places, and so on. Words and actions conducted through these representations reproduce ethnicity over time. It is considered common sense among anthropologists that the boundaries between ethnic groups cannot be fixed.1 Defining ethnicity is essentially a political decision. However, the existence of liminal groups, which move in and out of the arbitrarily set boundaries, endangers any set definition of ethnicity in the long run. Without the institution of state, the changeability of ethnic representation poses no problem to political leaders. However, since the state remains the most powerful organizing frame in the world, the relation between the fixed boundary of the state and the ambiguous, fluid boundary of an ethnic community has to be managed.


Ethnic Minority Ethnic Identity Ethnic Community Minority Area Love Story 
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© Chih-yu Shih 2007

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  • Chih-yu Shih

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