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The rise and fall of communal religious rituals in post-Mao China : a case study of an ethnic Luo community in Yunnan

Case study of an ethnic Luo community in Yunnan

Authors Yu, Ming
Issue Date 2012
Summary The thesis aims to examine the development of religious rituals in a marginal ethnic community in Yunnan Province of China in the past sixty years in relation to the social transformation of the community since 1949. The Gaoku Luo people, the target group of my study is a branch of the Yi ethnic group with a historically low economic and social status in local society. Before 1949, the management in rural area by the central state government did very little intervention into the Gaoku Luo people’s daily life. After 1949, state power came into the rural area. Especially from 1958 to 1976, Chairman Mao Zedong carried out high pressure policy to ban popular religious activities. The Gaoku Luo people’s ritual life was broken for about twenty years. After 1980, under the market economy and a relaxed political environment, the Gaoku Luo people resumed their religious activities with great enthusiasm, but the traditional authority of Gaoku Luo cannot be recovered. After the mid-1990s, with increasing rural-urban population migration, most of the households go out to work in cities. On the other hand, a series of poverty-relief projects were implemented in the Gaoku Luo community, gradually leading to their dependence to the government. Under the new social environment, the Gaoku Luo’s communal rituals disappeared after its revival in 1980s, but the family and personal rituals became more popular. I argue that the change of Gaoku Luo ’s rituals is a multi-faceted and multi-dimensional, rather than a one-way linear process of development. Secondly, the weak elites force of Gaoku Luo aren’t capable of effectively developing local society. Thirdly, the change of traditional social hierarchy and the social relations caused by the population migration between urban-rural areas cannot support the maintenance of communal ritual. In addition, this study also provides a special case to explore the relationship between the state-making and rural communities development in modern China.
Note Thesis (M.Phil.)--Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2012
Language English
Format Thesis
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