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

Lin Chang-Feng

Lin Chang-FengWhen I first came here to participate in the National Digital Archives Program, my daily job was to scan yellowed old pictures into digital images. Initially, I only knew that from the 1920s to 1940s, a group of researchers traveled all over China’s southwestern region, took many photographs, and wrote many reports. After I started to read those documents, I discovered that the researchers were looking at the people of those regions through various lenses; and through those lenses, one can see different views. Some lenses are made of “education,” and the researchers who wore them came to the marginalized regions to advocate “the establishing of the Republic” and promote ethnic education, treating their subjects as “a group of backward people.” Many people have taken this approach since the Ming and Qing dynasties. Some lenses are made of “nationalism,” and those who wore them did so with hopes of proving that members of China’s ethnic minority groups are our brothers and sisters. To do that they employed scientific methods in their philological, physiological, linguistic, and historical research.

Having observed this, I could not help thinking: What type of lenses would I wear to view ethnic minorities? I decided that in order to find out, I needed to go to southwest China and see for myself, and as a result I was drawn into the field of ethnic studies in southwest China. My master’s thesis will discuss documents and consciousness, using “A Chronicle of the Mu Family” (the family records of the Mu family of Lijiang in the Ming dynasty) as a case study to explore the historical meaning and group consciousness behind the way non-Han ethnic groups recorded their family lineages in the style of the Han people.

If one of the goals of this project is to attract more people to the field of ethnic studies in southwest China, then I think it has succeeded in attracting me.
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