Reconstruction of the Kam ethnic identity and culture in contemporary China: A discourse-oriented ethnographic study

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Friday, February 18, 2022
3:00 PM - 5:00 PM
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Based on over three years of fieldwork (2016-2019) in Zhanli, a remote Kam village in Guizhou Province, China, the researcher explores the complex dynamics between the discursive practices of the local government and the local villagers concerning the reconstruction of Kam identity and culture in response to social change, particularly the rise of rural tourism. China’s profound demographic and socio-economic transformation has intensified the dominance of Han culture and language and seriously challenged the traditional cultures in ethnic minority areas. Drawing on discourse-oriented ethnography and Goffman’s frame analysis, this ethnographic study illuminates the essential discursive strategies of the relevant agents, including the keyed framing adopted by the local government and the elite fabrication adopted by the local Kam elites, in this cultural reconstruction process. Through extensive and recursive analysis of multiple empirical data in the forms of government archives and websites, promotion videos, in-depth interviews with Kam villagers and local officials, fieldwork notes and on-site linguistic signs, this study also presents an engaging account of the significant compromises that government and villagers have made in relation to ethnic identity in the name of economic development, and of the tensions and struggles that characterize the ongoing process of ethnic identity reconstruction.


Dr. Wei Wang's primary research interests include discourse studies, sociolinguistics, translation studies and language education. His recent research concentrates on sociolinguistics and (critical) discourse analysis, especially on interdisciplinary studies of contemporary Chinese discourse. His publications include Media Representation of Migrant Workers in China (2017), Contemporary Chinese Discourse and Social Practice in China (2015) and Genre across Languages and Cultures (2007). His journal articles appear in Discourse Studies, Applied Linguistics Review, Journal of Multicultural Discourses, Journal of Chinese Language and Discourse, Australian Review of Applied Linguistics, Translation and Interpreting and other international academic journals. He also published book chapters with Mouton, Bloomsbury, Routledge, Benjamins, the University of Michigan Press, and Wiley-Blackwell.

Sponsor(s): Center for Chinese Studies