How do non-Han populations in China navigate the paradoxical expectations to become “proper” Chinese citizens, like the majority Han, while retaining pride in cultural practices and traditions that mark their differences? This article examines how Mosuo (otherwise known as Na) people in Southwest China have constructed the moral legitimacy of their ethnic traditions and identity through redirecting the Orientalizing gaze toward their Yi neighbors, another ethnic minority in the region. This argument, which displaces the analytical focus from the majority Han and the political state in analyses of the maintenance of ethnic boundaries, delineates how prejudice against a third-party ethnic other can serve as an important pathway for establishing cultural citizenship in the People’s Republic of China. The article ends with a discussion of the methodological significance of this lens for understanding interethnic relationships, while recognizing the challenges of examining ethnic prejudice as a site for negotiating identity and citizenship.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Sociology and Political Science