Handbook on Ethnic Minorities in China
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Handbook on Ethnic Minorities in China

Edited by Xiaowei Zang

This much-needed volume explains who ethnic minorities are and how well do they do in China. In addition to offering general information about ethnic minority groups in China, it discusses some important issues around ethnicity, including ethnic inequality, minority rights, and multiculturalism. Drawing on insights and perspectives from scholars in different continents the contributions provide critical reflections on where the field has been and where it is going, offering readers possible directions for future research on minority ethnicity in China. The Handbook reviews research and addresses key conceptual, theoretical and methodological issues in the study of ethnicity in China.
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Chapter 16: Ethnic marginalization in China: the case of the Lahu

Jianxiong Ma


In chapter 16, Jianxiong Ma analyzes the issue of ethnic marginalization and why minority responses to ethnic marginalization happened in the last several decades in the southwest frontier of China, using the Lahu group as a case study. The government has not raised a sufficient number of Lahu elites. It has instead focused on poverty reduction projects. As a result, the Lahu’s position in the local government hierarchy has been ‘hijacked’ by local Han elites. The civil service examination for cadre recruitment has further narrowed the Lahu’s participation into local decision-making. This may be a major reason why local developments have been slow since economic growth in the local region has not been a major concern of local Han elites. This in turn has strengthened the Han discourse of Lahu backwardness. As a result, the Lahu people has suffered from the pain of being Lahu. In the last three decades, more and more Lahu women have married Han peasants and the rate of the Lahu suicides, in order to move to the world of the dead in their religious belief, is increasing. Moreover, more and more Lahu people have become addicted to alcohol in order to escape the shame and pain associated with being the Lahu.

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