Fortress Village - The Ethnic Minorities of Southwest China  
Project Team Members

Huang Shu-Li

What did I have in mind when I decided to take this job? Surely you’ve been to Academia Sinica’s Institute of Ethnology! You should also know that in large writing across the main entrance of the Institute of Ethnology are the words “Ling Chun-Sheng Hall.” Ever since I first walked into the Institute of Ethnology, I had been wondering who Ling Chun-Sheng was. Why did the Institute of Ethnology name its building after him? My previous visits to the Institute of Ethnology were usually to visit a teacher or to attend a conference, and I would always glance at this name, wondering what it meant. I was too embarrassed to ask other people, because I had never heard anyone else ask or talk about it. Perhaps it was just a building, and just like how the park nearby is associated with the name of Hu Shi, it seemed to be taken for granted that the Institute of Ethnology should be associated with Ling Chun-Sheng. He’s probably an anthropologist, I thought. If not for this job, I’m afraid I still would not know who Ling Chun-Sheng and Rui Yi-Fu are. Sometimes, the purpose of discovering the past is to find something to identify with, and the same applies to discovering the past of science. In the end you know that you are not so alone, but not so special either. Now you feel that you are even more distant from God.

What will I do in the future? Sometimes, the answer to this question cannot be more obvious. Large amounts of documents need to be digitized; a pile of photographs used for identification purposes need to be captioned one by one; and thousands of artifacts that are stored in the museum storage room, gallery, and the Museum of the Institute of Ethnology also need to be photographed and captioned. These tasks may take several years to complete. Maybe one day we will be able to have our own workshop too, like the one designated for the Ming-Ch’ing Archives. Ours should be called the Southwestern Ethnic Group Field Workshop!

Today I learned that the CEO of Oracle estimated that the IT industry had already reached its peak, and that in the next few years, even decades, many people in IT and high-tech will be faced with unemployment. I hope that his prediction is not true. Fortunately, our research on southwestern ethnic groups has just taken flight, and we have a huge goal to reach. Every time I think about this goal, I feel like I can almost see the future waving at me from a distance. No matter what happens in the future, I will have a stable career working here.

What will I do in the future? Sometimes, the answer to this question is vague. I have to admit that the first thing I do when I get to my office every day is to think about what there is to do for the day. I might have to write documents, write meeting minutes, prepare invoices, communicate with other departments, attend meetings, read documents, read data, design charts, and write instructions, etc… the list goes on and on. All these trivial things leave me with little time to calm down and do some deeper thinking. It has become a luxury to slow down and look at maps and pictures of China’s southwest, read the notes and articles left behind by our predecessors. What else will I do in the future? I imagine that life will be pretty much the same, always busy tackling the endless list of trivial tasks, creating new problems, and fixing them. Perhaps it is better to simply ask me: What will you do today?
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