MCLC and MCLC Resource Center are pleased to announce publication of Timothy Thurston’s review of In the Land of the Eastern Queendom: The Politics of Gender and Ethnicity on the Sino-Tibetan Border (University of Washington Press, 2014), by Tenzin Jinba. The review appears below, but is best read online at:
My thanks to Nicholas Kaldis, MCLC book review editor for literary studies, for ushering the review to publication.
Kirk A. Denton, Editor
By Tenzin Jinba
Reviewed by Timothy Thurston
MCLC Resource Center Publication (Copyright March, 2016)
What makes a cultural site “authentic” in the People’s Republic of China? More important, what is the role of grassroots actors in interacting with the government to affirm or dispute this authenticity? How does this debate become central to a community’s identity on China’s culturally diverse margins? Finally, how do China’s policies related to Tibetan populations influence cultural expression on the Tibetan Plateau? Tenzin Jinba’s In the Land of the Eastern Queendom: The Politics of Gender and Ethnicity on the Sino-Tibetan Border wrestles with these important questions by examining a high stakes debate over the “true” location of the “Eastern Queendom” in Sichuan Province.
The dispute over the location of the Queendom began in May 2005, when a provocative newspaper article in a local newspaper shook Danba County. The Danba County government had previously identified Zhonglu Township as the “Ancient Capital of the Eastern Queendom” (东女古都). In the article, a local cadre, identified as Uncle Pema, took umbrage with this assessment. Citing local lore, geographic features, and perceptions of Suopo’s positive valuation of women, Uncle Pema argued that Suopo Township was the Queendom’s true location. And yet, despite this stunning exposé and the support of some high profile cadres and scholars, little changed. The people of Suopo (called Suopowas) continue to harbor ill-will toward the county government for insufficiently supporting their claims, which they felt the newspaper article had substantiated. The high economic stakes involved in the designation of a cultural heritage site, set within the complex politics of the Tibetan Plateau, form the backdrop for a fascinating study of culture, identity, and politics in western China. Continue reading