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Tracing ChinaA Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey$
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Helen F. Siu

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083732

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083732.001.0001

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Reflections on Historical Anthropology

Reflections on Historical Anthropology

(p.9) 1 Reflections on Historical Anthropology
Tracing China

Helen F. Siu

Hong Kong University Press

This essay targets a Chinese scholarly audience, who deserves a coherent presentation of the analytical themes that my South China colleagues and I have been concerned with. One cannot ignore history when one studies the unifying and diversifying cultural processes in an entity one terms “China.” Years of field research in South China has made one appreciate the contexts when regional cultures and histories were made, and how they were represented in relation to real and imaginary political centers. Collectively, we have strived to be empirically grounded as well as informed by critical social theories. Key concepts highlighted in this essay are: analytical pursuit of moving targets, structuring, human agency, social practice, the cultural language of power, locality and translocality, and inter-Asian connectivity. We explore self-reflective field methods and apply critical reading to historical texts and cultural events. We might have started our intellectual journeys from South China, but our concerns have taken us far beyond, connecting oceans and landmasses across the globe in multi-disciplinary terms.

Keywords:   Rural-urban divide, China, Hong Kong, Anthropology, Social changes, Political changes, Identity formation, History, Culture, modernity

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