Happy Miao New Year: Festivals and the Mediation of Ethnic Identity in Guizhou, China

"Happy Miao New Year: Festivals and the Mediation of Ethnic Identity in Guizhou, China" by Jenny Chio, Anthropology

Time: Oct. 27, 12:00-1:00pm

Location: Modern Languages 201

Free and Open to the public

This talks begins by juxtaposing two common types of images of ethnic minorities in China: news photographs of ethnic minority representatives attending national political meetings and shots of large crowds at ethnic Miao festivals as seen locally produced media. Through this contrast, I investigate a series of interlocking concerns in the anthropology of festivals and media ethnography. I argue that the visual objectification of ethnic Miao festival crowds in local videos mediates ethnic identity through body politics of presence. Images of Miao festival crowds are therefore doubly significant: first, in how these images may contribute to future ethnic imaginaries, and second, in how the visual presence of Miao festival attendees in turn privileges lateral solidarities within China’s state-led discourses of ethnic identity.

About the speaker

Jenny Chio is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at Emory University. She has conducted extended fieldwork in ethnic minority regions of China, including Yunnan, Guizhou, Guangxi, and Qinghai, since 2006. Her recent publications include an ethnographic monograph on ethnic tourism in China, a book chapter on rural Chinese filmmakers at an urban film festival, and an award-winning ethnographic film on tourism as labor in two Chinese villages that has screened at festivals, museums, and universities across the US, Europe, and China.