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Chinese history has always been written from a centrist viewpoint,
largely ignoring the local histories that were preserved for
generations in the form of oral tradition through myths, legends, and
Chieftains into Ancestors describes the intersection of
imperial administration and chieftain-dominated local culture.
Observing local rituals against the backdrop of extant written records,
it focuses on examples from the southwestern Hunan, Guangxi, Yunnan,
and southwestern Guangdong provinces. The authors contemplate the
crucial question of how one can begin to write the history of a
conquered people whose past has been largely wiped out. Combining
anthropological fieldwork with historical textual analysis, they dig
deep for the indigenous voice as they build a new history of
China’s southwestern region – one that recognizes the
ethnic, religious, and gendered transformations that took place in
China’s nation-building process.