June 08, 2015

"... two round-table sessions brought together scholars from China, North America and Europe who work on border regions in China, Nepal, India and other neighbouring countries"

The Centre for Himalayan Studies Pál Nyíri, for example, opposed parallel understandings of the Chinese nation-building project: on the one hand, the zhonghua minzu as a creation inside the territorial and political borders of China; and on the other hand, the zhonghua minzu (‘Chinese Nationality’), an essentially racial yet borderless concept. By Jinba Tenzin

'Based on the opposition between these two understandings, he questioned the idea of academic border—and by the same token critical scholarship which is more at stake here —in China’s contemporary cultural political environment.

'These remarks generated further questions regarding the study of borders in relation to the development of Chinese scholarship. How do some standpoints from within Chinese academia contribute to Critical Border Studies?

'Yinong Zhang, among others, discussed how the idea of “ethnic corridor” was coined by the pioneering Chinese anthropologist Fei Xiaotong to solve problems posed by minzu shibie (ethnic classification). Instead of a narrowly considered frontier/border region, a much broader multi-ethnic borderland region, such as the Tibetan-Yi corridor, might shed new light on concepts such as duo yuan yi ti (unity with diversity). In addition, Zhang introduced the concept recently advocated by Wang Mingming – zhong jian quan (middle ring, or the intermediaries), which can be seen as a more polished version of Fei’s original ethnic corridor concept. Furthermore, zhong jian quan emphasizes the mutual constructive nature between center and periphery as well as the possibility of a reverse relationship in certain contexts.'

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