Faiths on Display: Tourism and Ritual in Rural China
Dixi is a type of local masked performance enjoyed by tourists visiting Guizhou. To them and officialdom it is a sort of living fossil surviving from a primitive era. To locals who perform Dixi, it is a ritual dance invoking ancestral blessings of Han settlers in Ming times. Their ritual performances mark them as “tunpu people” enacting their role as national subjects while serving as sites of negotiation with the unpredictable powers of the state and of the growing tourism industry. While tourism has unquestionably transformed Dixi, it has not necessarily diminished its ritual efficacy nor dislodged its central role in tunpu identity.
Tim Oakes is a cultural geographer at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He received his PhD from Washington University. Dr. Oakes has been working in rural Guizhou for over two decades and is currently a visiting professor at Guizhou Nationalities University. He is author of Tourism and Modernity in China (1998), and co-editor of several volumes, including Faiths on Display: Tourism, Religion, and the State in China (2010), and Vast Land of Borders: Regionality, Territorialization and the Development of the State in China (forthcoming). He is currently working on a monograph on heritage tourism in rural China.
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