Among Ethnic Minorities in China, Na peoples have a history marked by an extreme form of matrilineality. However, their cultural context is framed by neighbouring lineage societies. This panel assembles perspectives on the links between social systems, environment, and worldviews in Eastern Asia.
In the Chinese Himalayan foothills, the Na societies -now Chinese ethnic minorities (Naxi and Mosuo among others)- share a complex history of contact with many different societies other than the Han and Mongols, especially with the Tibetan and the hill peoples in Indochina. Many of these societies share unilineal descent or bilineal descent patterns that can be traced into ancient history. Several of them are or used to be matrilineal, including the Mosuo who practice an extreme form of matrilineality without marriage. There are many gaps in the often imprecise ethnographic records, and a fragmentation of information that blurs our understanding of these cultures. This panel will assemble scholars who have worked with these societies, with the goal of developing a synthesis between their social structures and their worldview including religions, cosmologies and definitions of the environment. We hope to be joined as well by scholars originating from these societies so as to move toward a multifaceted and international perspective without borders.