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Minglang Zhou

In chapter 6, Minglang Zhou points out that the accommodation of multiculturalism in China has been a serious challenge since 1949. He examines, in terms of the concept of citizenship, how China entertained multiculturalism in the Soviet model of multinational state building between 1949 and the 1990s and how China has accommodated multiculturalism in its new Chinese model of one nation with diversity since the late 1990s. According to Zhou, the Soviet model selectively practiced citizenship and created more particularism than universalism, resulting in uncompromising conflicts between ethnic identities and the unitary national identity. The Chinese model in association with the cultural pluralist approach to citizenship appears to be a viable alternative to the Soviet model in bridging minority cultures and the mainstream culture and in coordinating ethnic identities and the inclusive Chinese national identity if China improves its practice of citizenship. Multiculturalism is model-specific in China.

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James Leibold

In chapter 8, James Leibold argues that China has arguably the world’s most extensive regime of minority affirmative action policies, far more extensive than the more widely discussed and debated policies that exist in the United States of America and other liberal democracies. Generally known as “preferential policies” (youhui zhengce 优惠政策) in Chinese, these policies provide China’s nearly 120 million ethnic minorities with tangible material and other benefits across many aspects of daily life in the People’s Republic of China, even if they are not fully implemented as originally intended. Leibold reviews the evolution and scope of these positive action policies before discussing recent debates inside the Chinese policy and academic community about the efficacy and implications of these policies for Chinese society. Concern is growing and leading Communist Party members are now openly warning about the detrimental effects of these policies on social cohesion and the ongoing processes of reform; yet the centrality of minority preferences to the processes of governance and social control in the PRC means they are unlikely to be repelled anytime soon.

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Edited by Xiaowei Zang

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Louisa Schein Luo Yu

In chapter 12, Louisa Schein (with Luo Yu) makes the case that a rigorous examination of how minorities have been portrayed in Chinese public culture must be driven by attention to the effects of such portrayals. Schein studies the discourses of superiority – or what Schein calls “supremacism” – within the Chinese social field. Commonly, analysts have amalgamated the symbolic counterpart of minorities into the monolith Han/ state/ urban/ intellectual elite/ masculine/ modern/ civilized/ center, and so on, resulting in a complementary signifying chain in which representations of the non-Han would bundle the feminine, the natural, the primitive and myriad other associated attributes. When Schein examined this issue in 1990, she described a process of “internal orientalism” that arose out of the perceived void at the core of Chinese national identity. Given rapid social changes since then, Schein asks: How might this imaginary have morphed in more recent eras? Who, exactly, is doing the othering at given periods in time and in specific instances? And who is othered? When minorities represent themselves, what is reworked and what is reiterated from dominant culture? Schein examines mainland scholarship on minority representation, considers two case studies of minority self-representation, and then entertains the possibility of what Schein gloss as a “post-alteric” social imaginary that may be on the rise in the public culture of China’s twenty-first century.

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William Jankowiak and B Shurentana

In chapter 9, William Jankowiak and B Shurentana provide an overview of themes and trends in the study of ethnicity in urban China. First, because minority research has been primarily conducted among rural ethnic groups, there are few studies of urban ethnic populations. To date, most research has focused on the relationship between cultural assumptions and how state policies have shaped who is and who is not a minority. With a few notable exceptions, it was not until the twentieth-first century that some of China’s 55 official urban minorities’ (e.g., Hui, Uyghur, Mongol, Tibetan, Sebei, Halka) family life were studied. Jankowiak and Shurentana summarize research on China’s urban ethnicity along with an ethnographic overview of Mongolian life in Hohhot, capital of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region (IMAR), as a way to illustrate how the urbanization process has reconfigured what it means to be a member of an ethnic minority group in Chinese society.

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Benno Ryan Weiner

In chapter 5, Benno Ryan Weiner offers an historical overview of Tibet’s position within China and China’s position within Tibet, stressing the ways in which both the CCP and advocates for Tibetan independence employ ‘history’ as a tool to make claims about Tibet’s current international position. Weiner then examines the Tibetan Plateau’s incorporation into the PRC during the Maoist period (1949–1976), focusing on the CCP’s parallel but incomplete efforts to integrate Tibetans into the multinational, socialist Chinese nation. Finally, he investigates conditions in Tibetan regions during the post-1978 era. Over the last four decades the ideological demands and policy prescriptions of state socialism have largely been jettisoned. However, the CCP’s shift to more developmental approaches of state building and national integration has not been very successful in convincing many Tibetans that they have an equal stake in the Han-dominated, multi-nationality Chinese nation-state.

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Michael Dillon

In chapter 4, Michael Dillon first outlines Xinjiang’s geographical position before discussing various aspects of Uyghur culture including language, mosques, and mazars. He then examines the relationship between the Chinese government and Uyghurs in Xinjiang, which is marked by demonstrations, violence, and resistance in the post-1990 era. The CCP has developed various polices and set up the religious affairs bureau, and the training of ‘patriotic religious personnel’ to maintain control in Xinjiang. It has also promoted economic development in the region. However, ethnic violence has not been abated because government responses have been simplistic and thus less than effective.