Accepted Paper:

The female images of ethnics in Ancient China: a text analysis on poems of the savages (Mandong Zhuzhici)  


Lisong Jiang (Southwest University)

Paper short abstract:

This article discusses how literatures established cultural hegemony over the peripheral people in southwest China. It analyzes the features of imaginations in the text, the narrative structures in which the images were formed, and, the impact on current stereotypes of ethnic females.

Paper long abstract:

The Qianlong Qing as the "early modern" history witnessed the establishment of hegemony over the peripheral peoples in southwest China. Lots of literature contributed to this hegemony by constructing images about ethnic minorities (including the females). The Poems of the Savages (Mandong Zhuzhici) is a case text in which I discuss three questions: the features of images; the narrative structures; the impact on current stereotypes. I aim to excavate the ideology implied, to decode the complex structure in which a long-lasting stereotype of ethnic females was formed, and, to criticize the contemporary prejudice against ethnic females which is promoted by a so-called cultural consumerism.

The main arguments are as follow:

Firstly, different cultural traits of females were categorized into two parts. One was the physical characteristics, another one was customary features. The former ones featured their physical distinction. The latter one concerned with females' unique social roles, such as mother, wife, etc.

Secondly, female images were rooted in a then-collective social values, with the core of "ritual system", or "li". Compared with "li", women of ethnic groups were recognized as the Others: not only from the male perspective, but also from the Han-Chinese perspective.

Finally, Mandong Zhuzhici, as well as other literatures, had a significant impact on current social stereotypes on ethnic females by two ways: (1), it provides specific female images which are still alive in current imaginations, and (2) more importantly, it provides a set of "structured-narratives" in popular discourse.

Panel RM-KG04
Naxi and Mosuo peoples in China and their Eastern Asian Neighbors