Tradition in Process: Framing Tradition in Cultural Preservation and Invention in Jixian in the Course of the Modernization of China

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[Bloomington, Ind.] : Indiana University
In this report of ethnographic research, I explore the relationships characterizing tradition and modernity, culture and economy, and the roles played by the state, local agencies, community, and individuals in the pursuit of local tourism and culturally-focused economic development. My study is based on research observing and analyzing local cultural projects and daily cultural life in Jixian, China. Specific cases include restoring ancient structures, organization of the Dule Temple Fair, and the development of rural cultural tourism and local folk art products. To understand broader themes in these contexts, I formulate a theoretical model of processing tradition in terms of “preserving,” “reconstructing and remaking,” and “inventing” tradition. This research shows that tradition and modernity are co-constitutive aspects of common process of social change. Tradition contributes to the acceleration of local modernization, whereas, modernization revitalizes tradition with new values and functions in promoting local development. In the context of China, processes relating to local heritage and tradition are incorporated into the state’s modernization plans. In Jixian, local agencies and individuals have wisely used their own strategies to negotiate the conflicts between traditional life and modern life. They have been aware that tradition is a treasure for them to use in building today’s and tomorrow’s life. They creatively find ways to utilize, adapt, and invent traditions and to make tradition modern so as to serve contemporary social needs.
Thesis (Ph.D.) - Indiana University, Folklore and Ethnomusicology, 2015
Tradition, Cultural Preservation and Invention, Heritage Tourism, Local Development, China
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Doctoral Dissertation