Ethnic Boundaries

  • Words 1064
  • Pages 2
Download PDF

In recent years, the Chinese minority films, such as the Mongolian Urtin Duu and the Kazak film Flower; have crossed the geographical boundaries, and also the boundaries of the language, which has led to problems of self-identification. In the movie Flower, the female Aken named Flower, whose belief was to stay in the Kazak steppe, to be an excellent Aken (poet) to perform and develop Aytis (the old Kazak art), while her boyfriend, an eminent Aken Kadel Khan longing for the metropolis, had given up his connection with the ethnic culture, got into the metropolis to realize his commercial art dream. Compared with Flower who adhere to the cultural heritage of the ethnic, Kadel Khan’s efforts to get out of the geographical and language-social boundaries of the ethnic groups symbolized the powerful impact of the external culture, and also revealed the contradictory and paradoxical process of cultural changes happened there, and the value judgment issues was gradually showing a diversified trend.

Similar to the choice of Kadel Khan, the Urtin Duu showed the Mongolian female singer who went to Beijing seeking to expand her art space, nevertheless suffered from the shock of confusion in self-identification caused by the changes of lifestyle and art field. Originally, her eagerness was to convey Long Song art to more people, been placed on the stage of the concert hall without communication, only accompanied by the performance of the symphony orchestra, feeling so desperate and lonely, and singing seemed hollow, meaninglessly to her. Finally she found herself had been separated from the original scene of Long Song art, her melody that deviated from the intrinsic meaning of traditional Mongolian rituals and communication with the audience turned out to be an isolated art form and artificial symbols merely. All the related events, especially the unexpected death of her husband who also couldn’t adapt to the commercial society made her lost her voice.

Click to get a unique essay

Our writers can write you a new plagiarism-free essay on any topic

Therefore, the movie spent much coverage to depict the trip of finding home and returning to the ethnic group, which is also Qiqige the singer, her culture tour of self-healing and renovating. After going back to Mongolian grassland, she received recognition and encouragement from other ethnic group members, and reexamined the unique significance exerted by ethnic culture on individual, such as various ceremonies, even understanding or sharing others’ traumas. Gradually she went over bewilderment in self-cognition and artistic ambition coming along isolation from group. To some extent, the traumatic experienced induced by the defect of abstract, homogeneous modernity was relieved. Fortunately, she recovered her sweet voice and regained her music full of meaning of ethnic cognition and self-cognition in a ritual that a motherless baby camel struggled to accept a new mother.

Both the Kazak Flower and the Mongolian Urtin Duu, tend to be conservative or “homecoming” in dealing with ethnic boundary and conflict. Neither Flower nor Qiqige in films avoided confronting different crisis in ethnic identity and self-cognition. Nevertheless, from the positive standpoint, even though the content about male Aken in Flower and Qiqige in Urtin Duu is a failing attempt, it still belongs to a kind of description of ethnic boundary and cognition, to a part that the specific ethnic group perceives and experiences. These stories, even of crisis, persistently narrated by artists, are as same as others to form the ethnic constitutive experiences. Probably, the split of self-cognition in modernity circumstances may be also the opportunity and motive of constructing self-cognition.

The ethnic cognition is created by the cross-communication between different groups and their culture rather than by isolation. Just as Barth illustrated, ethnic distinction lies not simply in geography, but in the communicative way between one and other ethnic members based on the already existed social order, cultural symbols and meaning systems. The enormous approaches for maintaining ethnic identity require them to consistently describe themselves to verify experience and to construct new cognition during the process of accepting cultural discrepancy and migration. Nowadays, in a condition that actively or passively crossing the language-social boundary has been increasing. If ethnic members cannot converse conflicts and restore crisis through their own cultural symbols and meaning systems, they will intensify the sense of self-cognitive fragmentation. Flower and Urtin Duu both represent the way of Returning Home self-reconstruction. However, Tharlo refuses to leave the dilemma and possibility of restoring crisis to the perplexed individual. What needs to be considered twice is that self-restoring men can be called the real ethnic artists, whereas Tharlo doesn’t have artistic talent alike. What he only possesses are Mao’s sayings and language that fail to integrate new experiences and his little scorpion symbol in popular films that lacks of meaning. Does it mean that the reconstruction of self-cognition demand of individual firstly to own the inside language though it is miserable, even to experience the miserable “lost sound” situation.

As Claude Levi-Strauss said, each culture can release its creative potential on the necessary condition that the balance between isolation and connection can be found. Accordingly observed, although people still use their language symbols, reexamining it reflected by another language, it perhaps turns into “another qualitative substance”, which means language’s meaning system has changed. In other words, the language-social boundary is constant in reconstruction. With the above situation, ethnic boundary’s conception has been changing and ethnic members will experience disturbances and challenges. Nevertheless, the discrepancy still is retained despite of communication and interaction. The complexity of experience and difference of culture won’t be collapsed through ethnic interaction. Even when the individual in various groups cross the ethnic boundary or identify cultures in other groups, his ethnic identity and cultural discrepancy still exist. Just as Barth pointed out, in the social system, although ethnic groups in contact and interdependent, interaction does not disintegrate through changes and acculturation, thus cultural difference continue to be preserved. It is inevitable that communication and interaction happen between cultures that includes overstepping boundary and entering language-social boundary. Regarding the ethnic culture as the standard, the conversation and conflicts take between it and other different culture, which requires ethnic groups and individuals to prevent crisis through transforming the way of cognition, creating and maintaining their unusual cultural characteristics. If both the ethnic groups and an individual member fail to converse their experience through an efficient semiotic system, the crisis of cultural identity and ethnic cognition will both bound to be further intensified. In this process, literature and art play a new role in social ethics.   


We use cookies to give you the best experience possible. By continuing we’ll assume you board with our cookie policy.