- Wednesday 18 January 2023, 17.00
Heritage for Branding and Heritage as Brand: Critical Fieldwork Reflections from Guizhou, Southwest China
Yu Luo (University of Puget Sound)
This talk critically engages with the roles of heritage in an age of cultural development in contemporary Guizhou, southwest China. As the multi-ethnic Guizhou Province treasures minority culture as heritage to battle against its chronic poverty and jockey for national and global positioning, the material and visual forms of ethnic lives have become central in both the image-making and branding of a unique place and the creation of cultural brands that highlight distinct products and services. Drawing from ethnographic research both in a village community and on a regional level, I consider two instances: the refashioning of traditional villages into cultural destinations and the incorporation of traditional craftspeople into cultural enterprises. While these projects intend to promote the sustainability of ethnic heritage, the oftentimes pragmatic nature of cultural branding leads to short-term strategies and decision makings. The talk will reflect on such a paradox as locals mobilize available resources and navigate their futures in response to socioeconomic trends.
Professor Luo is a cultural anthropologist whose research focuses on ethnicity and indigeneity in the Asian borderlands. She is also interested in urban-rural transformations, heritage and tourism, wildlife conservation, and China’s global nexus. Prior to joining the University of Puget Sound, she was a postdoctoral fellow at the University of California Berkeley and an assistant professor at the City University of Hong Kong. Currently, she is working on a book manuscript that examines ethnic branding and cultural politics of the Buyi (Bouyei) in Guizhou, southwest China.
Please contact Tim Thurston (T.Thurston@leeds.ac.uk) for a link to the teams meeting.