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Accepted Paper:

Contesting minority culture in rural China: landscapes of plastic and roses  
Seraina Hürlemann (University of Lausanne)

Paper short abstract:

Planting roses in former agricultural fields and decorating them with huge plastic objects constitutes an abrupt break with the conventional tourist imaginary of the Lashi Hai (North West Yunnan) area. This paper analyses social processes behind the co- production of such tourist landscapes.

Paper long abstract:

Back at my case study site last spring, I was puzzled by the newest infrastructure development: A several meters tall sculpture of a red high heel made of plastic in midst of a vast rose manor. In this paper I will explore co- production processes of tourist landscapes, in Lashi Hai, a rural area in North West Yunnan, China. The region's tourism sector has boomed during the last ten years, mainly relying on organised day trip tour groups of Han Chinese tourists. The fact that they are visiting an ethnic minority population provides abundant material for imagination: there are plentiful of images and stereotypes of ethnic minorities in media, cultural productions, tourist promotion on which to base one's imaginary of this region and its people.

Planting roses in former agricultural fields and decorate them with huge plastic object constitutes an abrupt break with the conventional tourist imaginary of the area however. I conceptualize landscape not as simply passive object but attribute a certain agency to it, in the sense that it has a capacity to structure social realities. Social interactions with landscapes represent processes in which culture and identity are contested and interests, expectations and imaginaries of different actors are negotiated. The physical arrangement of landscapes is thus considered as materialised results of such processes. If these results consist of roses and huge plastic objects - what social reality does that represent? Using data of ethnographic fieldwork, I will shed light the social processes behind the co-production of such landscapes.

Panel Env01
Landscape - the instructions manual: negotiating the meanings of landscape [SIEF Working Group Space-lore and Place-lore]
  Session 1 Wednesday 17 April, 2019, -