Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Dali
The introduction gives an overview of the goddess Baijie’s four identities and the book’s main themes of religion, ethnicity, and gender. It starts by examining the relationship between deities and society, with a focus on gendered deities, local deities, and deities of the Chinese frontier. It also introduces the Dali region, which it locates both in Zomia, the mountainous, stateless region that covers much of Southeast Asia and southwest China, and in relation to the Chinese state. Baijie’s different forms illustrate how people in Dali managed the tensions between their local identities and the increasing proximity of the Chinese state. Finally, the introduction addresses historiographical and methodological issues that arise in studying Dali and concludes with an outline of each chapter.
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