Between development and indigeneity: ethnic resistance in Lugu Lake, China

Authors: Lei Wei*,
Topics: Development, Cultural Geography, Tourism Geography
Keywords: ethnic resistance, indigenous development, place, tourism development
Session Type: Paper
Day: 4/14/2018
Start / End Time: 8:00 AM / 9:40 AM
Room: Regent, Marriott, River Tower Elevators, 4th Floor
Presentation File: No File Uploaded


This study draws on data from in-depth interviews, WeChat based online ethnography and participatory observation to discuss two indigenous resistance movements in Lugu Lake, inhabited by Moso people which is known as the last matrilineal tribe in China but now experiencing dramatic socio-spatial restructuring wrought by the advent of globalization and modernization, especially throughout the development of the tourism sector over the past 30 years. The article analyses the strategies that the Moso communities employed for resisting the imposed development project and regulatory interventions of the local state. This presentation lays out the logic of Moso resistance in two events. The first one is about “defending mother lake from encroachment of motorboats”. The Moso argues that the motorboats, planned to be operated by the local government, will diminish traditional local culture, destroy local ecological environment and hurt the indigenous people’s economic interest. The second one resists the government regulation of “unlawful” land use and construction, in the name of protecting place from overdevelopment. The Moso claims that it is imperative to build house as necessity for everyday practices. In these two struggles, indigenous people demands for preservation when local state imposed development project, and vice versa, request the right to development in the name of ethnicity, placeness and indigenousness in front of protective regulation by state. This contradictory logic of development/preservation reveals the complexity of the relations that have pertained between globalization and locality, modernity and tradition, development and preservation in the actions of indigenous group.

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