Ethnic Identity and Place Identity in the Practice of Ethnic Cultural Reconstruction:A Case Study of Official Ancestor Worship of Gelao Minority in Wuchuan County

  • 1. Institute of South China Karst, Guizhou Normal University, Guiyang, Guizhou 550001, China;
    2. School of Geography and Planning, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, Guangdong 510275, China

Received date: 2010-12-06

  Revised date: 2010-12-14

  Online published: 1997-12-20


With the leading process of the ideological trend of ‘cultural turn’,the main focus of ‘new cultural geography’ has transformed from emphasizing the results of the geographical phenomena to the process,with its spatial process and social relationships which internalized in special regional systems being more emphasized.The meanings and symbolic functions of the landscapes were reinterpreted in this transformation process.Based on the participant observation on the official activities of ancestor worship of Gelao ethnic minority which is one of the native ethnic minorities in Guizhou Province and in-depth interviews with relational groups in Wuchuan County,Guizhou Province,it is found,under the context that the economic development relies on the ethnic culture as the tourism attractions,the ethnic elites reconstructed the Jiutiantianzhu as ancestors of Gelao ethnic minority and the rituals as well as the place of ancestor worship in order to make Wuchuan County become the central place of Gelao minority groups.In the process of reconstruction,the meanings of place have been changed,and the Xiaotangshisun has also been transferred from the original natural landscape into the central cultural landscape of Gelao ethnic minority groups.Although the spatial strategy of the place being centralized as ‘the source of Gelao ethnic group’ enlarges the fame of Wuchuan County and enhances the influence of the area,there is an opposite identity on activities of ancestor worship between official ‘on-stage’ of the ethnic elites and non-official ‘under-stage’ of the common people.The essential reasons for the divarication cover two aspects.One is that the local Gelao people in Wuchuan County have not distinct memory about their ethnic group.The other reason is that the Gelao minority have been scattered so long time that they have already had different culture from place to place.In the process of the cultural practice of ancestor worship of Gelao ethnic minority,the local elites reconstruct the place identity by various kinds of the social relations and powers,meanwhile the local ethnic identity also cause some impacts on the reconstruction of place meanings in another way.It is finally pointed out in the paper that the official cultural reconstruction suspended above ethnic groups would be very fragile without the support coming from the common Gelao people from bottom to up.This study has a great theoretical significance in improving the research on sense of place with the lack of subject,and also in enhancing the study of emphasizing the importance of ethnic identity and place identity.

Cite this article

DU Fang-juan, CHEN Xiao-liang, ZHU Hong . Ethnic Identity and Place Identity in the Practice of Ethnic Cultural Reconstruction:A Case Study of Official Ancestor Worship of Gelao Minority in Wuchuan County[J]. SCIENTIA GEOGRAPHICA SINICA, 2011 , 31(12) : 1512 -1517 . DOI: 10.13249/j.cnki.sgs.2011.012.1512


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