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Reinventing Chinese TraditionThe Cultural Politics of Late Socialism$
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Ka-ming Wu

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780252039881

Published to Illinois Scholarship Online: April 2017

DOI: 10.5406/illinois/9780252039881.001.0001

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Narrative Battle

Narrative Battle

Fabricating Folk Paper-Cutting as an Intangible Heritage

(p.64) Chapter 2 Narrative Battle
Reinventing Chinese Tradition

Ka-ming Wu

University of Illinois Press

This chapter examines how Xiaocheng Folk Art Village in Yan'an was transformed into a container of tradition and the practice of paper-cutting into an intangible cultural heritage. It first considers the origin narrative of Xiaocheng Folk Art Village before discussing how China's urban intellectuals in the fields of folklore, religious studies, and anthropology have sought to re-understand the meanings of their work in the broader national and international framework. It then explains how Xiaocheng Folk Art Village emerged as a site of local, national, and international interests, with particular emphasis on the birth of creative rural subjects, reconfigured domestic relations, and a new public life in the village. It also describes the village's democratic struggles over folk art and concludes with an analysis of the politics of cultural authenticity and the invention of tradition in the broader context of intense urbanization and agrarian crisis in China. The chapter argues that heritage making in China is a process of “narrative battle” in which various actors construct differentiated meanings of history and tradition against the official party-state narrative.

Keywords:   paper-cutting, Xiaocheng Folk Art Village, Yan'an, cultural heritage, China, urban intellectuals, folk art, cultural authenticity, urbanization, agrarian crisis

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