The making of an exotic homeland

Chen, Huai-Hsuan, (2014), The making of an exotic homeland: Performing place, identity and belonging on china’s southwest borderland. (Order No. 3607146, The University of Wisconsin – Madison). ProQuest Dissertations and Theses, , 264. Retrieved from http://search.proquest.com/docview/1493012095?accountid=16266. (1493012095). (Restricted access) Preview format Pdf

This dissertation is an ethnographic account of the profound cultural and spatial effects of the creation of a modern borderland. It draws primarily on a total of fourteen months of fieldwork between 2007 and 2011. It is a tapestry of how the imagery of home is realized through different tourist performances that reconfigure spaces of encounter, ethnicity and lifestyle in post-socialist China. The dissertation uses Chinese cultural concepts to shed light on the identification and dis/location of travellers and residents on China’s southwest borderland, and their issues of belonging in a place intended for the consumption of leisure. By illustrating how different social groups perform and embody their sense of belonging in a frontier tourist town, I intend to illuminate how the multiple meanings of place and the heterogeneous senses of belonging result from the entangled relationship between state power, mobility, and consumption. I divide the main body of the dissertation into four chapters of argument with ethnographic analysis, each of which addresses one aspect of the home-making process in the context of China’s ongoing, rapid socio-economic changes. With particular interest in the heterogeneity and cultural flow of performance spaces and their relationship to tourism consumption in post-reform China, I will focus on different ideas of home embodied in performances by Han Chinese tourists, ethnic performers, nomadic musicians, and native Naxi residents in the Old Town of Lijiang. Rather than studying a specific ethnic or cultural group, the dissertation explores the fraught experiences of people as cultural performers on the borderland. Shaped by a hybrid form of a tourism economy, which combines the state’s cultural authority, market forces, and mobility, lives on the borderland are shown to be an ongoing process of identification, full of friction, appropriation, and reproduction, when one’s own sense of home is constructed.


Jacqueline Nivard

Jacqueline Nivard, Centre d'études sur la Chine moderne et contemporaine

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