I gave a paper titled "Precarity Alleviation: Tourism as Development in Rural, Ethnic China" as part of the invited session "Precarious Time: Discussions on the Un/Doing of East Asia," on Saturday, November 23.
Check out this short post about the session on the Anthropology News blog:
In 2009, the World Bank approved a US$60 million loan for a project titled “Cultural and Natural Heritage Protection and Development Project” in Guizhou province, China. Consultations and initial master planning for this project had begun nearly ten years earlier. This paper examines the unfolding of tourism as development in the village of Upper Jidao, one selected site within the project, from the perspective of those whose present conditions and future ambitions are most at stake: village residents. The oft-expressed intent of utilizing tourism as development in China is to alleviate the economic precariousness of rural livelihoods, particularly in ethnic minority regions, by creating new forms of labor and wage-earning in the booming national tourism industry. Likewise, such projects to protect heritage aim to stabilize the perceived precariousness of ethnic traditions and folk practices by rendering cultural differences into commercially entertaining, pleasantly familiar forms. And yet, at the most local levels of intra-village socialities and individual subjectivities, anxieties, uncertainties, and frictions are, in many cases, heightened precisely because of ongoing national, policy-level exhortations for rural, ethnic people to become more developed, more urban, and more modern. Rural, ethnic lives and livelihoods are thus made and un-made in the concomitant processes of tourism, development, and urbanization in China today, reinforcing conditions of social and economic precarity that are both inherent in tourism as development and newly emergent as a consequence of state-led ideological efforts to reimagine the stakes of being rural and being ethnic in contemporary China.