SOCIALLY BENEFICIAL FOREST MANAGEMENT IN DUNHUA COUNTY: SUPPLEMENT John Studley London Sunday, September 20, 2009
Dunhua Forest Bureau Area In the DFB area there are only the following "minorities" 324 Koreans, 34 Hui and 76 Man and an estimated1 7000+ Han Chinese. There were very few minorities living in the villages close to the forest farms or in the workers villages Indigenous People It is generally understood, although not always explicitly stated, that indigenous people are a subordinate ethnic group and have a different ethnic identity to the nation in power. Although this is inferred (by the use of words such as “distinct” and “non-dominant”) in the following definition (I used in the background paper)
“Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system” http://www.iwgia.org/sw641.asp
there are other definitions that are more explicit Indigenous refers to a politically subdominant and underprivileged group who share a distinct ethnic identity and geographical concentration from the nation in power, and who have been an ethnic entity from old-age times before the present ruling nation took over power (Greller 1997 ILO Convention 107 of 19572) 1
Because I was collecting data on minority peoples I was not given the Han information http://www.ilo.org/wcmsp5/groups/public/---asia/---ro-bangkok/documents/presentation/wcms_099176.pdf accessed 20th Sept 09 2
Although the population who live around the Dunhua forest farms may have settled there before any other ethnic group (in 1941), because most of them are Han they are unable to satisfy most of the indigenous criteria outlined above. Ethnically they are not politically subdominant or under privileged, they do not share a distinct ethnic identity from the nation in power and they colonized an area historically populated by the Manzu. Local People Although the villagers who live close to the Dunhua forest farms may not be considered as indigenous both Agenda 21 and ILO 169 make provision for “local” people. The research I conducted reveals that the local people who live close to the Dunhua forest farms have distinct patterns of forest use and forest benefits which require recognition and protection. To reiterate:Local Villagers3 and forest farm workers4 who live close to Dunhua Forest Bureau Farms collect up to • 15 species of mushrooms • 30 species of wild vegetables • 1300 species of medicinal plants • 5 species of nuts • 10 species of fruits • Grass fodder • Acorns for pigs • Fish • Honey • Water and consider the following forest benefits
of great importance:- Commercial, Future, Place attachment, Life sustaining, Aesthetic
of moderate importance:- Recreation, Biodiversity, Cultural, Intrinsic, Learning
of minor importance:- Identity, Therapeutic, Historic, Spiritual, Subsistence
10 villagers from Ya Cha and 8 from Long Cai He A Han couple, a Manchu couple & a Korean lady
Beijing’s Civilizing Agenda Although the social and indigenous benefits of FSC forest certification is gaining international recognition there is every evidence that it is being reinterpreted under the aegis of China’s civilizing agenda. To reiterate:However peripheral people (indigenous/local) are identified in China they are subjected to evolutionary stratification and discursive engineering by the civilizing centre. This applies to their location (if “local”), what they do (if land tillers or “peasants”), ethnic status (if minority nationalities), their knowledge (if “inferior”) by their beliefs (if “superstitious”) and origin (if “indigenous”). Local People Historically Chinese society was stratified: - Emperor-noble-urban-rural-barbarian. In spite of Communism, stratification still exists and is discursively engineered (oral & written) in official views of “peasants”, “local”, minority peoples, ethnicity, culture and indigenous people.
These views make bottom-up participatory approaches, community relations and the use of indigenous or local knowledge or practice a challenge. The Chinese (Marxist-Leninist) model of development has one fundamental characteristic in common with the capitalist development project. There is fundamental agreement about the necessity and legitimacy of a major social engineering crusade. In order to facilitate the ultimate transition to a 'new era' it is necessary to replace local cultural values, and local practices and the knowledge systems that inform them with a singularly rational, scientific, and unquestionably superior cognitive system. It is only within the logics of these two ideologies of development that the diversity of cultural meanings of a local society can be reduced to 'backward',
Although the state tolerates ethnic revitalization as long as it helps tourism and fits in with its vision of 'sanitised' multiculturalism it continued to curb large-scale endeavour and to reduce popular culture to 'superstitious', 'local' and 'of the ordinary people'. Such practices are rarely shown
on television or in school textbooks and when they are, they are represented as "thin description" or as a means of "commoditizing ethnicity" for tourism.
“Peasants”/Soil Tillers Starting in the late nineteenth century many crucial loan words entered China from Japan. Chief among them were peasant (nongmin), feudal (fengjian), and superstition (mixin). Over the next decades, both Marxist and non-Marxist Western perceptions of the peasants as a discreet and destructive element filtered into China. In the decade leading up to the May 4th Movement (1919)5, elites began to believe that China’s rural population was “backward” and a major obstacle to national development and salvation. For them rural China was still a “feudal society” of “peasants” who were intellectually and culturally crippled by “superstition”. While some intellectuals were more sympathetic to the peasants’ situation, they tended to demonstrate their sympathy by engaging in folklore studies in the 1920s which only served to reify peasants as a separate and quaintly anachronistic assemblage. The result was that the countryside lost its status as the heartland of Chinese values and the place that defined what it meant to be Chinese. In addition, those who tilled the soil gained a new harmful characterization requiring their isolation and reform. This represents a reversal of Western conceptions of modernization which tended to turn peasants into farmers. Instead, after the founding of the People’s Republic of China, “peasants” now have second-class citizenship, ironically, giving legal confirmation to the second-class culture they earlier had been identified with (Cohen 1993). Beliefs Officially Communist China is an atheist country, God does not exist, and only atheists are allowed to be members of the Communist Party. In reality there are 50 million Communists 100 million Christians and 1,950 million people who practice Animism, Taoism, Confucianism, and Buddhism. Even though it could argued that the Chinese are not very religious, religion and religious culture have had a profound effect shaping the Chinese psyche. Individuals in China often recognize a wide range of beliefs and religions including organized religions like Buddhism and Taoism as well as folk religions and beliefs in local deities, ancestral spirits and superstitions in the hope of making all spirits, gods and supernatural forces happy and thus ensuring good fortune. The goal for an individual is often to be in harmony with the cosmic world rather than seek one true, divine path. 5
It is widely recognized that China has changed rapidly in such areas as economy, society, and the way of life since the beginning of the 1990s, but there is no comparable consensus as yet with regard to religion and religious beliefs. It would appear that religious belief and practice in China is characterized6 by: (1) A negative perception of ‘religion’ and confusing terms such as religion (zongjiao), belief (xinyang) and superstition (minxin) underlie the facts that few urban Chinese would admit they are religious; (2) Urban Chinese who are stretched between scientism and spirituality, pro-rationalism, proreligiosity and syncretism. (3) A complex religiousness in which a significant part of the population takes part in religious activities (practice) but do not necessarily hold a religious belief, and believes in religious powers or figures but do not consciously belong themselves to the corresponding religious organizations; (4) The majority of state or party cadres who officially are atheistic Marxists and reject superstition but a minority7 who possess a political8 and spiritual identity9 (5) Animistic-Shamanistic peoples who may not have a “religion” if their beliefs are deemed to be “superstitious” but typically believe in local deities, sacred mountains and trees and totem animals. They achieve harmony within the cosmos by placating local spirits or through a local shaman (See Studley 2007) Minority Nationalities The Minzu designation is a political construct based on Stalin’s definition of nationhood and has very little ethno-linguistic basis. In Yunnan Province, for example, more than 250 ethno-linguistic people groups applied for ethnic minority status but they were conflated to 24. Some scholars have suggested that the Yizu alone comprise more than 400 ethno-linguistic groups
There were assumptions that ethnic distinctions would disappear as class differences faded and a homogenous proletarian culture came into being. This clearly has not happened and although 6
http://www.wun.ac.uk/chinastudies/debates/archives/05_06_program/seminarsix.html Reports say that at least one-third of the 60-70 million Communist Party members belong to a religious organisation. According to AsiaNews, the records of the Communist Party's Disciplinary Commission indicate that 12 million party cadres in urban areas are involved in religious activities, 5 million of them on a regular basis. At the same time, 8 million party cadres in rural areas are involved in religious activities and 4 million of them are regular religious participants http://www.forum18.org/Archive.php?article_id=910 8 Communist Party member 9 of a religious believer. 7
the organs of state continue to mouth the rhetoric of “ethnic participation” and “autonomy” progress is clearly predicated on a civilizing agenda
The discourses of the “civilizing centre” are predicated on hierarchies of class and ethnicity through an official social evolutionism schema that justifies the superiority and inferiority of different groups (Bulag 1999). The Han are anointed as the nationality of destiny while all minorities are classified as being located at various lower stages and exhorted to “catch up” with the Han in values, social customs, class structures and developmental praxis.
Indigenous People Indigenous people are variously defined “Indigenous communities, peoples and nations are those which, having a historical continuity with pre-invasion and pre-colonial societies that developed on their territories, consider themselves distinct from other sectors of the societies now prevailing on those territories, or parts of them. They form at present non-dominant sectors of society and are determined to preserve, develop and transmit to future generations their ancestral territories, and their ethnic identity, as the basis of their continued existence as peoples, in accordance with their own cultural patterns, social institutions and legal system” http://www.iwgia.org/sw641.asp
Han China is either reducing its indigenous people, especially if they are ethnic minorities, to three stereotypes or is systematically removing the foundations of minority autonomy by questioning the legitimacy of their native/indigenous status.
China's modernization agenda, featuring the centralizing and assimilating power of education and propaganda systems, draws on three stereotypes (Salas et al 2000) • • •
Indigenous people are passive like women, seen from the perspective of the male dominant Han society Indigenous people are like children who need to be educated in the higher values and 'culture' of the Han Chinese Indigenous people are frozen in the early stages of the unilinear evolution of society, unchanged, far from the cultural standards and the 'civilized' Han
In addition they have discursively engineered (Bulag 1999) the concept of indigenous by claiming native/indigenous status of Han everywhere, including minority autonomous regions (such as
Mongolia). In Xinjiang they claimed native status because the indigenes had â€œdisappeared without a traceâ€? and because of blood relations and intermarriage with minority peoples...
In order to provide strong incentives to local people to sustain the forest resources and adhere to long-term forest care it is important that local/indigenous/ethnic knowledge systems, worldviews, culture, practices of earth care and language are not undermined by the civilizing propensities of the state.
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