By Chuan-kang Shih

During this long-awaited ethnography, Chuan-kang Shih information the normal social and cultural stipulations of the Moso, a matrilineal team dwelling at the border of Yunnan and Sichuan Provinces in southwest China. one of the Moso, a majority of the grownup inhabitants perform a traveling method referred to as tisese rather than marriage because the basic sexual and reproductive establishment. till lately, tisese was once noncontractual, nonobligatory, and nonexclusive. companions lived and labored in separate families. the single prerequisite for a tisese dating was once a mutual contract among the guy and the lady to permit sexual entry to one another. In a accomplished account, Quest for concord explores this certain perform particularly, and gives thorough documentation, fine-grained research, and an attractive dialogue of the folks, background, and constitution of Moso society. Drawing at the author's huge fieldwork, carried out from 1987 to 2006, this is often the 1st ethnography of the Moso written in English.

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Extra resources for Quest for Harmony: The Moso Traditions of Sexual Union and Family Life

Sample text

Drawing on ethnographic data as well as legends and cultural idioms, this chapter shows how the Moso deem females superior to males and how they twist cultural concepts and social practices borrowed from patriarchal cultures such as the Tibetan and the Han to fit their superior-female ideology. This chapter also illustrates the Moso gender system with depictions of child care in household life and of gender division of labor in agricultural work, particularly during the People’s Commune period.

Their cultural center is Yongning of the Ninglang Yi Autonomous County in Yunnan Province. Some of the population live in other parts of Ninglang County and a considerable portion are in Muli, Yanyuan, and Yanbian Counties on the other side of the provincial border. In fall 1987, on my fi rst field trip, I stopped at the county seat of Ninglang to present the letter of introduction from my host institution in the provincial capital Kunming and to obtain another one from the county government. To be accepted by the local authorities and people in my field, I would need the latter to assure them that my research activities were sanctioned by the government.

As my research moved forward, I included a fourth village nearby in which a considerable number of people from the fi rst three villages had tisese partners. Tisese is the most conspicuous feature of Moso culture. For reasons I have noted, however, it was also a tender spot that could not be touched. To desensitize the issue and avoid offending my informants, I framed tisese as an institution of reproductive instead of sexual behavior. It was unfortunate that I was prohibited from investigating the psychological and emotional aspects of the institution by soliciting information directly.

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