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

Liu Rong-Hua
Identity and Material Culture

Liu Rong-HuaGroup identity exists on many levels and is full of uncertainty, but material culture can turn such a spiritual mentality into documents that everyone can read, interpret, and actualize. This type of document/material culture includes not only objects that can be sensed by the central nervous system, but also text, oral narratives, music, and changes in the landscape, which are cultural materials that can be observed physically. How do humans express their inner thoughts through material culture? The two do not connect with each other directly, because the different techniques, materials, and concepts employed may all influence the thinking and creating process, and cause the relationship between the two to twist and deform. Humans invent metaphors in life, and these metaphors reveal the principle of correspondence in our hearts. Therefore, by studying the “conceptual metaphor” within, we can examine mechanisms of change. My current research uses “conceptual metaphors” to discuss the relationship between the material culture and identity the construction of existing ethnic groups. I hope to take the mechanisms of change that I obtain and apply them to identity research in the pre-historic archaeology field.

As I have previously mentioned, the same material culture (or document) will often be read, interpreted, and actualized by different people. For example, discussions on the composition of Chinese ethnic groups in the early twentieth century often involved different scholars taking the same ethnographical data, comparisons of human physiques, documents and records, archaeological findings, and other material cultural remains, and each one constructing their own version of ethnic boundaries. In the “Remaking of Chinese Boundaries” project, I attempt to compare these scholars’ opinions on the composition of the Chinese ethnic group, and analyze the academic as well as general environment of that period of time in order to understand how it is possible for Chinese ethnic boundaries to show such diversity despite coming from the same or similar material cultures.
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