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SONG AND SILENCE: Ethnic Revival on China's Southwest Borders

SONG AND SILENCE: Ethnic Revival on China's Southwest Borders

A book presentation by Sara L.M. Davis

Friday, February 10, 2006
12:00 PM - 1:30 PM
6275 Bunche Hall (6th floor)
UCLA Campus
Los Angeles, CA 90095

In the sunny, subtropical Sipsongpanna region, Tai Lues perform flirtatious, exoticized dances for an increasingly growing tourist trade. Endorsed by Chinese officials, who view the Tai Lues as a "model minority," these staged performances are part of a carefully sanctioned ethnic policy. However, behind the scenes and away from the eyes and ears of tourists and the Chinese government, a different kind of cultural resurgence is taking place.

In this vivid and beautifully told ethnography, Sara L. M. Davis reveals how Tai Lues are reviving and reinventing their culture in ways that contest the official state version. Carefully avoiding government repression, Tai Lues have rebuilt Buddhist temples and made them into vital centers for the Tai community to gather, discuss their future, and express discontent. Davis also describes the resurgence of the Tai language evident in a renewed interest in epic storytelling and traditional songs as well as the popularity of Tai pop music and computer publishing projects. Throughout her work, Davis weaves together the voices of monks, singers, and activists to examine issues of cultural authenticity, the status of ethnic minorities in China, and the growing cross-border contacts among Tai Lues in China, Thailand, Burma, and Laos.

Sara (Meg) Davis earned her Ph.D. at University of Pennsylvania. She has conducted research at Yale University, UCLA, and Human Rights Watch on China. Davis has written for several publications including Far Eastern Economic Review, The Wall Street Journal, International Herald Tribune, and Modern China. She currently lives in New York.

Books will be available for sale and signing.

"An exemplary study of cross-border culture. Davis's original and deeply probing account of state-sponsored musical culture and of the musical practices that both transcend and subvert it deserves, like the music it depicts, to travel widely." —James C. Scott, Sterling Professor of Political Science and Anthropology, Yale University

"Song and Silence is a delightful and surprising book, at once playful, scholarly and lyrical." —Jonathan Spence, Yale University

Cover photograph by Wilson Wong.
Book website http://www.songandsilence.com/

Parking in UCLA's Lot 3 costs $8.

Cost : Free and open to the public.


Sponsor(s): Center for Southeast Asian Studies, Center for Chinese Studies, Anthropology