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Sino-Vietnamese Border Crossing and the Transnational Identity of the Jing Nationality

Special Issue
Siu-woo CHEUNG (The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology)
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This paper considers the development of linkages to transnational culture and changes in social identities as expressed in religious rituals at traditional festivals of the Jing nationality of Guangxi in the period of the introduction of the policy of opening up borders and the rise of cross-border trade since the late 1980s. These observations are analyzed in the contexts of recent historical changes and the contemporary development of a regional economy, in order to illustrate the interplay between transnational identity and other aspects of social identity, such as class, age, gender, lineage, ethnicity, citizenship and so on, in social relations and the construction of social hierarchy. In the field of Chinese ethnology, discussions of trans-border peoples tend to consider state political identification in opposition to ethnic cultural identity. This paper seeks to show that transnational ethnic cultural identity is itself a product of the political and economic development of the modern state, and reflects consciousness of state borders and political systems. To understand this experiential consciousness, it is essential to transcend the limitations of a nation-state based discourse of trans-border ethnicity, and incorporate national political systems and ideology into a discussion of social relations and interactions in local life.

Journal of History and Anthropology