We have a last minute opening for the panel "Governing China’s “Frontiers”: Everyday Modernities in the Making in Southwest China," proposed for the 2012 AAA meetings. If you are interested in participating, please send me your abstract by Friday, April 6, 2012.
Previously conceived as a “frontier” and painted with a variety of labels—“exotic,” “primitive,” and “indigenous,” Southwest China has historically been a political project and a targeted site for development in the Chinese state. In recent decades, Southwest China has undergone multi-scale connections with other places due to drastic economic development and marketization. Through the technologies of tourism, education, road construction, and labor migration, with rapid flows of people, goods, and information, the dense network of communities and kinship in this region have become thoroughly imbricated into the fabrics of a translocal China. Ethnic minority people have also come to dwell in various encounters, imaginations, and intertwinements. All this renders problematic the previous “frontier” images and discourses concerning this region. Alternatively, taking Southwest China as a “bridge” or even a “center,” rather than a “frontier” occupying the bottom rung of modernity, could be a fruitful approach in studying the assemblages of processes occurring therein.
In this panel, we propose a multidisciplinary approach to examining modernities in the making through everyday situated practices in the broader ecology of Southwest China. As Southwest China (xinan zhongguo) garners increasing visibility in popular, policy, and scholarly arenas, it provides a physical and symbolic ground through which to examine the discursive governing strategies of the postsocialist China with regards to its ethnic minorities, and the contested processes of social change, market force, state discipline, and modernization. To grasp how the “frontier” is evolving in its quest for modernities, it is essential to understand the emerging regimes of governing in this region, through which the making of new ethnic subjectivity becomes possible.
As said, Southwest China has experienced profound transformation in its cultural, geographical, and educational landscape. The effects of the transformation go far beyond the material and economic realm and have altered the ways in which ethnic minorities live and relate to nature, themselves, their Han counterparts, and the good life. The new spatial, social, and educational formations have also compelled novel modes of governing that often result in tension, contradiction, and fragmentation. Our projects offer fresh insights into a hybrid form of governing in Southwest China, which combines market forces, state rule, consumption, education, and neoliberal techniques. Whether through the encroaching power of tourism development, or the sexualized gaze of urban vacationers, or the profit-driven modern tea production, the quest for modernities is translated into messy contestations, maneuvers, reimagining and re-appropriations that local actors daily engage in. The panel investigates the ways modernities are lived, practiced, and negotiated in the fraught cultural, social, and educational experiences in Southwest China and illustrates modernities not as a fixed thing but an ongoing process of happening. The panelists are from a variety of disciplines, including education, anthropology, geography, and so on.
*Please send abstracts of 250 words or less to Huai-Hsuan Chen (firstname.lastname@example.org) by Friday, April 6, 2012.Participants will be notified on April 10th if they have been selected to participate.
*Those who are included in the panel must become AAA members (or renew their memberships) and register for the conference prior to April 15, 2012, the deadline for session submissions.
I look forward to your contributions.
Department of Anthropology
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