Saturday, February 21, 2009

Assignment: Who Are The Chinese?

Central Question: Is there such a thing as a common Chinese identity/ society?

Some Guiding Questions:
  • What are some criteria for defining identity/society?
  • How important is a particular factor, e.g. language, in determining the unity or diversity of Chinese society? Why is this so?
  • Has the significance of the factor increased or decreased over time? What are the reasons for this development?
CHINA: Portrait of a People

Observe carefully how the faces, culture (dressing, art and festivals), occupations, etc differ among the people from the 22 Provinces (省 shěng) , 5 Autonomous Regions (自治区 zìzhìqū), 4 Municipalities (直辖市 zhíxiáshì) and 2 Special Administrative Regions (SARs - 特别行政区 tèbié xíngzhèngqū) - see map of province-level divisions

Hui Muslim community from China

Consider how the Hui Muslims in China fit (or not fit) into your idea of "Who are the Chinese"?

A website suggests that, among others, “Chinese” can possibly be defined on the basis of race and blood. Put loosely, all of the descendants of Yan and Yellow Emperors, all of the heirs of the dragon are Chinese. Just like this below song 龙的传人 (Heir of the Dragon) goes, “always an heir of the dragon“ as long as you have "black eyes, black hair and yellow skin"...

Click here for the (US born and raised) Wang Leehom's version of the song (see lyrics in English and Chinese)

If we talk a little more tightly, if your bloodlines are 100% Chinese, then using this definition, you are Chinese, and this will never change. It doesn’t matter what passport you hold, it doesn’t matter what citizenship you hold, even if you grow up or are born in a different country and can’t speak Chinese, you’re still Chinese.

What do you think? How important is bloodline in determining "Who is Chinese"? On the other hand, what about "understanding of China’s language, history, and culture.... of China’s way of life"?

No comments: