The Core Concept of Grassland Culture, I, II, III
Wu Tuanying, Ma Yongzhei, Jin Hai, Bao Siqin, Wu En
The concept of wenhua or culture has undergone numerous changes in China and Chinese. Until the mid-twentieth century it had a normative power that defined and distinguished the (Han) Chinese from the non-Chinese. In the twentieth century, as non-Han Chinese have become ‘ethnic minorities’ (officially called minzu or nationalities) of a unitary Chinese modern state, each of them has been afforded a ‘culture’. However, since the turn of the twenty-first century, the notion of culture has been ‘de-ethnicized’, but regionalised based on ecological characteristics, so that China is now defined to be constituted of three cultures: caoyuan (grassland) culture, huanghe (Yellow River) culture, and changjiang (Yangtze River) culture. Inspired by Fei Xiaotong, the most prominent social anthropologist China produced, who redefined the property of the Chinese Nation as being unity in diversity, the notion of grassland culture has been embraced as the core culture of Inner Mongolia, which boasts the greatest (though rapidly shrinking) expanse of grassland in China. Here we are pleased to put on our website three papers written by leading scholars in Inner Mongolia, which describe three integral dimensions of the core concept of grassland culture they promote. We believe that they may well become what may be called the Cultural Constitution of Inner Mongolia (and beyond), and serve as a guiding principle for future Chinese Communist Party and state policies in the region.
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