Fortress Village - The Ethnic Minorities of Southwest China  
     
   
Website Overview

The establishment of this website traces its origins to a national-level digital archives project, and the website team represents a branch of the digital archives project at The Institute of History and Philology, Academia Sinica. The first-phase IHP project, entitled “Digital Archives of Historical and Cultural Relics collected in the Institute of History and Philology-Digital archives for Ethnological Artifacts, Photos and Scripts,” lasted for a period of five years, from 2002 to 2006. The second-phase project began in 2007 and is titled “The Project of Historical and Cultural Heritages developed in the Institute of History & Philology-Digital Archives for Ethnological Artifacts, Photos and Scripts.” This project specializes in the organization of ethnographic materials collected by IHP researchers, including audio-visual materials, documents, artifacts, etc. After these materials are digitized, they are organized into websites and databases so as to facilitate the promotion and popularization of this body of research.

Aside from use in the presentation of fieldwork photograph, ethnological text, and ethnological artifact databases, this website was also established to provide a link between past and present research on ethnic minority groups in Southwest China. Consequently, the website includes a section called “The Remaking of Chinese Borders,” which recalls not only the historical background behind the IHP’s dispatchment of a large research team to collect ethnic minority-related materials in early modern Southwest China, but also the academic contexts of numerous researchers during that period; and the website also includes a section called “The Ethnic Minorities of Southwest China,” which aims to highlight present day ethnic minority groups in the Southwest and related topics of interest for modern researchers. Through the pairing of research subjects and contexts from the past and present, as well as the comparison of these subjects and contexts, we can see changes in the “other” (ethnic minority groups), while shedding light upon the paradigm shifts taking place on “our own” (academic research) side. Additionally, in the “Cultural Exhibition Gallery” section, we attempt to consider ways in which to evince topics or problems relating to the “other.” We hope to do away with the myth of “exotic customs,” and seek to use a “local viewpoint” to demonstrate the modes of interaction between “man and man,” “man and heaven,” and “man and earth” evident within Southwest ethnic groups. In doing so, our aim is to enable viewers to reflect upon “group” or “ethnicity” and “self.” Under the broad heading of “Archive Databases,” we place links to fieldwork photograph, ethnological text, and ethnological artifact archives, allowing researchers the convenience of digitization as an aid in their studies. We will also put various technical specification-related documents produced during the digitization process in this section, in the hope of providing a means for positive communication and experience-sharing with other digitization organizations. We, of course, welcome advice and corrections.

Introductions to the main contents of each section in the website are listed below:


“The Remaking of Chinese Borders”
In the early modern period, under the auspices of nationalism, the “barbarians” inside and outside of China’s borders gradually became “ethnic minorities” contained within the national boundaries. The atmosphere of the early modern period created within nearly all intellectuals feelings of nationalism and the hope that China could improve and grow stronger, and these intellectuals sought to make a contribution to this process by means of their own studies. This section introduces the historical background behind early modern survey research which resulted in the archive materials presented on this website, as well as the connection between research carried out during the early modern period and the project of nation-building and border re-formation. This section also includes introductions of various researchers, including Ling Chun-Sheng, Rui Yi-Fu, Tao Yun-Kui, Li Guang-Ming, Sergei M. Shirokogoroff, Ma Xue-Liang, Wu Ding-Liang, Yang Cheng-Zhi, Yang Xi-Mei, etc.


“Cultural Exhibition Gallery”
There are no “exotic customs” here. Rather, in this section, we use visual, written, and aural media to highlight knowledge, especially that knowledge which allows us to better understand “ourselves.” We hope that viewers will use this knowledge as a means by which to consider the following questions: What is “ethnicity” and “culture”? Why do we have “group” or “ethnic” identity? What is “history”? The main content in this section includes “Man and Earth,” an introduction to environmental resources and human habitats; “Man and Man,” an introduction to social identification and categorization; “Man and Heaven,” an introduction to life, ancestors, and deities; and the “Process of Nationalization” and its influence on ethnic minority identity, dress, accessories, and other cultural characteristics.


“The Ethnic Minorities of Southwest China”
This section is split into two parts. An overall introduction to the history and geography of Southwest China is presented first, and then a more in-depth introduction based on different ethnic groups is outlined. On “The 26 Ethnic Groups of Southwest China” main page, the regional distribution of Southwest ethnic minority groups is highlighted on a map. When you click on the name of a certain group, a brief introduction of the distribution area and characteristics of the group is displayed. At that point you can choose to enter the introduction page for that ethnic minority. Information about each ethnic minority group is split into four short sections: 1) a brief introduction of the minority’s present status; 2) a general overview of the history, society, and culture of the group; 3) in-depth research conducted from special vantage points, such as familial relations, ethnicity, religion, politics, etc., by researchers of the minority group; 4) a list of essential reference works pertaining to the minority group.


“Research Materials and Information”
The “Historical References” portion of the “Research Materials and Information” section is mainly a collection of local records and related historical materials about the Southwest regions composed before the establishment of the Republic of China. The “Research Publications” portion emphasizes the achievements of researchers studying the Southwest at the present time as well as related dissertations and MA theses. The “Related Websites” portion provides links to anthropology, historical anthropology, and minority group research-related websites, including websites for academic organizations, museums, and individual researchers.


“Message and Discussion Board”
The “Message and Discussion Board” section is an area for exchange and interaction. Any and all messages are welcome on the “Message Board,” and if you find you have any comments, criticisms, or additional information about our images or content after viewing the website’s fieldwork photograph, ethnological text, and ethnological artifact archives, please feel free to post them on the board. The “Fieldwork Images” portion is provided for those who have just returned from fieldwork as a way of remembering and reflecting on it; for those who are currently engaged in fieldwork as a way of giving expression to their feelings about it; for those about to begin fieldwork as a way to see and explore it; and for the exchange of any other tips or tricks related to the fieldwork process. Finally, there is the “Reading and Ideas” portion. From the second half of 2002 onward, participants in this project have engaged in regular reading group meetings, and this section of the website displays the content of these meetings. We welcome any interested viewers to explore and discuss these materials.
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