The chronotopes of authenticity
Designing the Tujia heritage in China
Xuan Wang |
University of Cardiff, United Kingdom
This paper examines the ways in which the ethnic minority group the Tujia in Enshi, China, engages with heritage tourism, as a complex project of designing authenticity. Authenticity is taken as part of the chronotopic phenomena of identity making: the complex interplay of multiple, nonrandom timespace frames of discourses and semiotic performances which condition and offer new potentials to the meanings of authenticity. We show ethnographically the chronotopic nature of the local production of “authentic” heritage for tourism in Enshi. This leads to a historical grounding of the Tujia in China’s nation-building and state politics of multiculturalism, which uncovers the anxiety of inauthenticity experienced by the Tujia in Enshi with their own minority status and cultural heritage, as well as their strategic chronotopic incorporation of both “authentic” and “inauthentic” aspects of local identity practices into a new order of authenticity afforded by heritage tourism as a form of new economy. Through such practices, we argue, the Tujia in Enshi chronotopically shift away from the periphery towards a new and reconfigured center of meaning-making, although this reappropriation of authenticity still must be understood within the “cunning of recognition” scheme, i.e. within the constraints of late modernity.
Keywords: authenticity, the Tujia, China, heritage, chronotope, heritage tourism
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