Comment from: an anthropologist from China [Visitor]
It is truly sad to read all these comments made by some ‘anthropologists’, especially that the comments were made after their visit to an ‘ethnic minority village’ where they were entertained by happy minorities with their ’songs and dances’. These kinds of ‘representations’ are exactly the sort of phenomenon that anthropologists have been trying to engage with critically, rather than making hasty and ridiculous conclusion such as the above statements. If Mr. Luis Alberto Vargas, the IUAES President really made irresponsible comment as such, especially after the very recent events in Xinjiang, then we, as young anthropologists, do have something to worry about on where this discipline is heading towards to….
Thanks for you’re comment. I agree. I’m also wondering if they really said that. On the one hand, Xinhua is no neutral news agency and mainly publishes state propaganda what you know better than me. On the other hand, those anthropologists are guests and they try to be polite. Anyway, Petr Skalnik was right. It happened when he predicted when he said that he does not “want to be part of overt and/or tacit legitimation of evidently erroneous handling of nationality question in China” and therefore will not participate in the Kunming congress.
Comment from: Benni [Visitor]
Still, if the anthropologists mentioned feel or don’t feel that their participation / comments on the whole “field trip” partly resulted in Chinese state-propaganda it would be interesting if they replied to the Xinhua-article and the connected accusations themselves. If there is no coincidence in name then “Hillary Callan” is probably Hilary Callan, head of the Royal Anthropological Institute (RAI) and therefore could be seen - at least in context of such a conference - as a kind of official spokesperson for our profession.
The whole thing seems a little odd from my perspective, and I’d rather have the story told from more than one perspective.
Good research, Benni! Thanks. We should ask them. Over at Culture Matters, there was posted a short review of the conference: Anthropologists and the Politburo:
Anthropologists from all over the world seemed happy enough to play along with this spectacle of surveillance as well as with the display of happy ethnic minorities in costumes, who were on campus for photo ops.
Comment from: Jan-Eerik Leppänen [Visitor]
I was a conference guest and took part to that Keyi village excursion on Wednesday 29th of July. The whole trip was an arranged show from the Chinese officials I would say. There were Axi dance shows and display of ethnic customs in various stages. About 99% of the Keyi’s population was supposed to belong to animistic Axi people but when walking around in the village, I could see several Chinese muslim (Hui) families, centrally located christian church, house gods common for Han Chinese… of course these cultural characteristics were mentioned anywhere during our trip.
Some visitors made critical comments about the authenticity of the Axi culture but the director of ethnic and religious affairs was firm in his stance that ‘what you see here is real’
I remember the journalist, who seemingly made the Xinhua story. She interviewed, I believe, more than 10 people and asked interviewees to give direct views towards current Chinese ethnic policies. I could hear lot of critical opinions! It now appears, that only the most polite and positive comments were approved to the story. It could be thank Xinhua ‘edited’ the article by raw hand. On the other hand, I think it could very well be the journalist herself who made ’self-censoring’ before suggesting her store for publication…simply not taking any risks, careerwise.
Occasionally Xinhua does publish semi-critical stories- (even as sensitive topics as ethnic minorities) - as long the government is not put into critical light.
Thanks a lot Jan-Eerik for your comment. Very interesting to read that especially as there have been no offical responses from the IUAES-anthropologists so far. Self-censorship is very common among journalists - not only in China.
Excellent presentation of facts by Jan-Eerik who was a fellow co-participant during the Kunming IUAES. I went to Danuhoi village and there too experienced a stage managed show by ethnic villagers. Being from India I expected a natural settlement of inhabitants and wanted to listen from their mouth about the political, economic and social living and response from Chinese Govt. The event was so excellently organised that it left no space for any comments. Yet the field visit should have been left to the participants….