Poetic Approach and Yi-ness:
Poets and Ethnic Identity Construction in China

By Qiu Jing

Modern Chinese Literature and Culture, vol. 33, no.1  (Spring 2021), 87-121

This essay proposes a new approach in the studies of ethnic identity construction in China. It treats poetry as a discourse in constructing ethnic identity and poets as ethnic-minority intellectuals in social action. Through reinterpreting the history of an Yi poet group from their college years (the 1980s) to the peak of their professional and political careers (the 2010s), the article identifies Yi-student alumni as agents of a culturally-based social movement. Engaging existing scholarship in the field of ethnic minority literature in China, the essay further explores Yi-ness as an ethnic consciousness expressed in the writings and actions of Yi poets.