Date of Graduation

Spring 5-2012

Level of Access

Restricted: Campus/Bates Community Only Access

Degree Name

Bachelor of Arts

Department or Program

Asian Studies

Second Department or Program

Politics

Number of Pages

198

Abstract

Cultural tourism has been an integral part of China’s economic modernization strategy for some years now. The issue of cultural commoditization, which can be defined as ethnic cultural manifestations in return for economic gains, emerged soon after. With the ever-growing tourist industry in China, concerns have emerged that cultural exposure for the sake of money has a damaging effect on the unique character of ethnic cultures and weakens minority people’s sense of ethnic identity. Although such concerns are justified in certain ethnic communities, they do not apply to all minority populations in China. Tourism is not monolithic: its impacts are contingent on the cultural characteristics, political history, religious affiliation and geographic distribution of a specific ethnic minority. On a parallel, cultures are fluid and multifaceted and interact with tourism in unpredictable and diverse ways. In this thesis I argue that to understand the real impact of cultural tourism on ethnic cultures it is necessary to study the phenomenon taking a case-specific approach. I then examine the development of cultural tourism in two specified ethnic minority communities in China’s Yunnan Province, the Dai in Xishuagbanna and the Hui in Weishan. Through an empirical as well as theoretical analysis I conclude that the impacts of ethnic tourism are unpredictable and differ among communities due to cultural, political and other idiosyncratic characteristics minority peoples may display.

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