Edited by Xiaowei Zang
Chapter 13: Ethnic tourism in China
In chapter 13, Tim Oakes presents several key issues concerning the study of ethnic tourism in China today. Even though Chinese-language tourism scholarship has exploded since the mid-2000s, there remains a great deal of room for critical research on Chinese ethnic tourism. Noting the rise of independent tourism and leisure consumption in China, Oakes finds that ethnic tourism has expanded beyond the bounded geography of the ‘minority village’ and diffused into the realm of everyday consumption. Because of this, he argues, Chinese ethnic tourism can be approached and understood as a kind of urbanization. Much of his review is influenced by his own long-term experience studying ethnic tourism in one particular region of China, Guizhou Province. Oakes shows that in a clear reversal of the Mao era’s emphasis on urban centres as beacons of progressive socialist modernity in a wilderness of ‘ethnic backwardness’, cities and towns have been rebranding themselves – and reconstructing their built landscapes – as displays of village-style ethnic architecture and culture. At the same time, ethnic tourism has served as a conduit for greater state control over community-held assets, leading to alienation on multiple levels.
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