Imagined Genealogy: Behind the Cultural Formation of Huishui’s Buyi Nationality

  • Chih-yu Shih


There has been a common understanding in literature about the nature of the Chinese nation, that is, the nation is a “cultural formation” as opposed to being a genealogy.1 Therefore, any ethnic group can become Chinese as long it subscribes to the Chinese mainstream culture, especially Confucianism. The cultural argument has had a long history beginning during Confucius’ time. Confucius was widely quoted as one who used the code of dressing to distinguish the Chinese from the barbarians. In fact, in the Chinese political narrative, “under-heaven” is a more popular metaphor than the territorial “state” when talking about the proper domain of the emperor. Under-heaven refers to a morally superior emperor reigning over those like-minded subjects, while the state is at most an extension of the emperors genealogy. The early reference to “hua-xia”—whereby “hua” denotes being Chinese and “xia,” the first recorded dynasty, as the representation of the Chinese civilization—further stresses the importance of culture, as opposed to genealogy, in the Chinese identity.


Ethnic Identity Qing Dynasty Chinese Nation Ethnic Culture Cultural Program 
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© Chih-yu Shih 2007

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  • Chih-yu Shih

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