Stevan Harrell
University of Washington

Note: This paper was presented at a Harvard Workshop in June, 2000. Please don't cite or quote without permission.

I have been doing research and writing on Yi topics since 1987, but I first saw the term Ջ in 1994, when I received a letter from Professor Bamo Ayi on the stationery of the ՟ʢՋߋ, a name also translated as the Bamo Sisters' Research Group for Yiology and as batmop vytmop nyipmat nip mupmit nzypvat xiopzup . I had not previously known that the Yi had an ology of their own. Since two of the Bamo Sisters will be visiting fellows at the Harvard-Yenching Institute in 2000-2001, I am glad to have the opportunity of using Harvard as the venue for these preliminary remarks both on how the Yi got to have an ology (or, more euphoniously after 1995, a studies), and how this moved from a field that only existed in China to a field that was part of an international scholarly discourse.
What is noteworthy about Yi Studies is that it is a field, not just a subject of study. It has its participants, its journals, its books and monographs, its international conferences, and most importantly its topics and questions. It has its factions and disputes, though fortunately these are mostly fairly friendly (but see Wu Gu 2000: ), and it even has its in-jokes, which I will not bore anybody with here. This was not always true. Before 1956, there was no coherent body of works on the Yi, only scattered accounts by bimo, missionaries, explorers, and anthropologists of various sorts. Between about 1956 and the early 1980s, there was a coherent body of works on the Yi -perhaps too coherent--but it was part of a larger totalizing discourse of ‹, or Chinese ethnology. Since 1980, Yi studies has taken on the characteristics of a field, first within China and since about 1995 around the world. This paper is the story of the historical emergence of this field.

A. The Prehistory of Yi Studies:

The idea of Yi was solidified in the 1950s as part of the  , or ethnic identification, program. Before that, there were a large number of linguistically and culturally related groups, with partly common historical origins, ranging over Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou, who were the objects of scholarship from way back.
The earliest studies of the Yi (as opposed to Yi studies) were of three kinds. First, there were texts in the various Yi languages. These included historical texts, mostly from Guizhou and all but a few of them lost, dating from the early Ming dynasty (Ma Changshou 1987 Cuanwen book), various books of traditional wisdom and stories (Wu Jingzhong 2000; Feng 1986), and most importantly copious ritual manuals transmitted from generation to generation of priests (Taipei Ricci Institute 1998). Second, there were accounts by Chinese travelers and officials, beginning as early as the from the Historical Records of Sima Qian, and continuing through the works of famous scholars including Gu Yanwu, who wrote and quoted copiously about Yi peoples in his magisterial Ϧ渼 (see Liu Yu 2000). Third, there were accounts by modern missionaries, explorers, and ethnographers. These include, in a very partial list, works on Liangshan by Baber, Broomhall, Lin Yaohua, Zeng Zhaolun, and Feng Hanyi and John Shryock; on Yunnan by Vial, Lietard, Pollard, and Graham, and on Guizhou by gotta findem.
Yi peoples were thus known to outsiders before 1956 from a large number of accounts in various genres and of varying value. But none of these accounts was addressed to a field of Yi studies. The religious and legendary books of the Yi themselves were addressed to local Yi audiences (each with its particular language and script, so that they could not read or understand each other's books) and concerned themselves with the topics of their own Yi worlds, but they were not written with any self-conscious purpose of delineating the lives of Nuosu or Sani or Azhe from other, surrounding ethnic groups. They told not a Yi studies story of what was interesting about the Yi, but simply a Yi story of what was interesting about life, and particularly about death and the afterlife.
Accounts by premodern Chinese historians, officials and travelers were intended for wider audiences of literate Chinese, but they were not audiences who were interested in the Yi in particular. They were concerned for the most part with those things that rulers and administrators needed to know about various Yi peoples to rule, administer, or failing that fight with or ignore the Yi, and they were embedded in accounts of other southwestern peoples such as Miao, Tai, and Tibetans. They were part of a kind of field of barbarian administration, with a hefty dose of general barbarian curiosity thrown in.
Accounts by ethnographers in the late 19th and early 20th century were partly intended for the same purposes of administration and control, as were many ethnographies in the same period all over the world (Asad, etc). Insofar as Ming, Qing, and Chinese Republican administration in frontier areas was part of a colonial civilizing project (Harrell 1995), ethnography served the same purposes there as in other colonial encounters. At the same time, however, such accounts were also directed at an intellectual field of anthropology, which was dedicated to describing and analyzing the variety of human cultures and societies. In such a field of discourse, an account of one or another custom or practice of one or another Yi people served the same purpose as Boas on the Kwakwaka'wakw or Malinowski on the Kiriwinians. It did not speak, except in a very instrumental way, to others whose interest was inherently in the Yi themselves.

In the mid-1950s, the Yi became a minzu. This means that, in the grand project of  , which took from the early 1950s through about 1957, a large number of ethnolinguistic groups of various sizes and various degrees of coherence, all speaking languages in what later became known as the ²Ԧղ, most of whom had previously been known by the pejorative term or the slightly kinder , were grouped into a minzu of several million strong, which included, for reasons probably clear at the time but not necessarily defensible, not only those groups with a written tradition in Yi-type scripts, but also some, such as the Lipuo, Lolopo, and Laluo, who were never known to have had a system for writing their own languages, and whose spoken languages were closer to those of the Lisu and Lahu than to those of the other Yi groups (Bradley 1979), but excluded the Lisu and Lahu, who were each given statuses as separate minzu.
For scholarship on the Yi, the consequences of becoming an official minzu were enormous; they began to fit into the great systematic grid of Marxist ethnology, whose horizontal rows, piled upon each other, were the inevitable historical stages or levels from primitive to slave to feudal (divided into manorial and landlord sub-stages) to capitalist to socialist society, and whose vertical columns were the history of each minzu as it passed through these stages. The Yi, like other minority peoples of the Southwest, were not only classified as a minzu at this time; they were also subjected to intensive ethnographic research which was known as social and historical investigation . Large teams of ethnographers compiled detailed reports based on stays of several weeks in a wide variety of locations, taking copious field notes (still preserved in archives, in some cases), and writing up reports that are quite formulaic and thus not as valuable as the raw notes, but still crammed with information. On the basis of these reports, different communities within the Yi and other minzu were placed in the proper squares on this grid. For example, some of the Yi, that is the Nuosu of Liangshan, were placed in a lower square in the Yi column, because they were stuck by their geographical isolation at the slave society stage, while other Yi, primarily the Nasu of Guizhou, were at the sub-stage of manorial feudalism, and some of the groups in Yunnan had passed on to the sub-stage of the landlord feudal economy (Chen Tianjun 1987).
The social and historical investigations did more, of course, than enable different communities to be placed in their appropriate boxes; they also provided a place to publish much information on the details of social structure (the slave system of the Nuosu was a particular favorite), holidays and festivals, religious beliefs and rituals (though some ethnographers later got in trouble for writing about religion in too neutral a manner), and the folkloristic topics of music, dance, poetry, and myth.
Never again was there such a broad and systematic effort to record the ethnography of whole minzu, but ethnographic reporting on the Yi and others continued through the next three decades. It was stopped, of course, during the three hard years after the Great Leap Forward, revived in very tentative and incomplete ways in the early sixties, and then smashed (but not obliterated, even the manuscripts) during the Great Proletarian Cultural Revolution. In the late 1970s and early 1980s, as ethnographic institutes were restored in the newly independent Academies of Social Sciences, not only did work continue, but much of the work from the earlier periods, particularly the brief golden age of the mid-1950s, was published, culminating in the mid- and late- 1980s in the "five kinds of book series" , of which the most detailed and comprehensive were compilations from earlier and later social and historical investigations. There was one set of the social and historical investigations for each province, and Sichuan, Yunnan, and Guizhou each published several volumes on the Yi.
Despite this flurry of valuable ethnographic and historical publication, these studies of the Yi still did not, however, constitute a field of Yi studies. Rather they included material on the Yi in the fields of ‹ and , or ethnology and ethnohistory, both of which fields were inherently comparative, and whose purpose was to add color and texture to the boxes of the ethnological grid mentioned above. And just as there was yet no Yiology, there were no Yiologists, no scholars whose primary focus was specifically on the society, history, or literature of the one Yi minzu. Such great scholars as Ma Xueliang (1911?-1998), Lin Yaohua (1911- ) and Ma Changshou (Get dates) worked on the southwest or on the ethnology of religion or on the history of a particular region; they did not work, as a primary focus, on the Yi, even though much or even most of their work was concerned with the Yi.

B. The Historical Conditions for the Emergence of Yi Studies

All this changed in the 1980s; three kinds of important social and ideational changes made Yi studies possible. The first two of these changes were primarily developments internal to China: from the top down there were policy changes that gave China, once again, the ideal form of a multi-ethnic state, and from the bottom up there were many ways in which ethnic elites asserted their identity within this newly pluralistic framework.
The Cultural Revolution had practically eliminated the possibility of ethnic expression in China. Schooling in non-Chinese languages was abolished; Party leaders such as Ulanfu who had been prominent in the 1950s and 1960s were attacked for separatism; administrative differences between regular and autonomous localities were reduced to a minimum; every ethnic or national conflict was re-interpreted as nothing but a reflex of class conflict; even ethnic arts, such as the three-color lacquerware of the Nuosu in Liangshan, were condemned as expressions of feudal or bourgeois taste. But as part of their general and wide-ranging re-assessment of the radical policies of 1957 78, the Chinese leaders reconsidered everything they had been doing as part of their frankly assimilationist directions during those two decades. This perhaps started with such local phenomena as Hu Yaobang's appalled visit to Tibet in 1980 (Goldstein 1997: 63-64), but it culminated in new policies of ethnic pluralism, enshrined in the Constitution of 1982 and the Nationalities Autonomy Law of 1984.
Revised policy was accompanied by revised ideas, and China once again became portrayed in official and semi-official media as a multi-ethnic state. The editing and eventual publication of the aforementioned Historical and Social Investigations was part of this, as were the appearance of colorfully-dressed ethnic minorities on postcards, in art exhibits (the "Yunnan School" of very-soft porn is prominent here) (Gladney 1994), and the tradition of including more and more minority performances in the New Year's Eve television gala, which began in the 1980s. More systematically, a series of conceptions of the Chinese as a people with multiple origins was consolidated in Professor Fei Xiaotong's 1989 essay, µ­
These developments, essentially revised formulas for nationhood imposed from the top down, left the way open for the bottom to start agitating upward for the concrete expression of that newly granted autonomy and newly formulated diversity. It became possible for members of local ethnic collectivities (who by now were totally accustomed to the minzu model of diversity, with its 55 minority building blocks) to begin taking charge of the representations of their own culture. These representatives came from several walks of life, and approached cultural representation in a variety of media. For example, social scientists and other intellectuals who were members of minority groups began to think about ways of writing their own history and society that were more localistic, less dictated by the overall teleological grid of historical progress, and perhaps most significantly, less derivative of Han Chinese assumptions of minority inferiority. Often they drew directly on the implications of central policy changes. When an important Shanghai conference in 1984, for example, declared that "there was no fundamental contradiction between religion and socialism," Yi scholars and cadres quickly moved to change the official status of bimo and analogous priesthoods from "feudal superstitious practitioners" to "ethnic intellectuals." In other examples, several Yi scholars moved to question the models of slave society that had been imposed on Liangshan history by the grid of progress (Pan Wenchao 1987, Ma Erzi 1993, Liu Yu 2000).
But celebrating ethnicity meant more than just scholarship, revisionist as it may have been. It also meant making money, and with the rising incomes of urban Chinese in the late 1980s and early 1990s, it opened up vast possibilities for ethnic tourism. Yunnan and Guizhou were at the forefront of this: they had the most innocuous varieties of ethnic diversity in the country. Tibet was problematical because it was so far away, so unhealthy, and so separatist, and Xinjiang, while appealing in some ways, had a reputation for danger and drug-dealing that made it less attractive to the potential tourist. But the Southwest had little if any tourism and a lot of color. Still, color had to be revived and revised after the repression of the 50s through the 70s, and the infrastructure had to be built to accommodate guests. And in order to make the ethnic tourism experience alluring, it had to have a thick cultural component to it. Minorities had to be different enough to make their areas worth the trip, and ever more remote places began to spiff themselves up as centers of cultural difference. In western Yunnan, for instance, this went from Dali and Shilin in the mid-1980s to Lijiang in the early 1990s to Lugu Lake and the scenic wonders of Zhongdian (Gyaltang) in the late 1990s (for comparable phenomena in Guizhou, see Schein 1999, Oakes 1998, Cheung 1995).
One thinks of scholarship as the province of scholars and of tourism as the province of entrepreneurs, but it is also important to point out the role of local cadres in this process of reemergence and validation of ethnic identity and difference. In the Yi areas, in fact, local cadres were instrumental in both the promotion of scholarship and the promotion of tourism and other kinds of popular culture. The standardization and popularization of the Nuosu script, for example, was strongly supported by Wu Jinghua, later Party Secretary of Tibet and Chair of the Nationalities Commission, and by Feng Yuanwei, later vice-governor of Sichuan. Bamo Erha, vice-prefect of Liangshan, promoted everything from standardized circle dances to a public statue of a Nuosu leader's pact with the Red Army in 1935. Naxi leaders at Lijiang in Yunnan went further, and after the disastrous 1995 earthquake not only got the town restored to its former splendor but had it designated as a Unesco World Heritage Site. Yi cadres in the Chuxiong Yi Autonomous Prefecture so far do not have U.N. support, but they reportedly have a large and splendid cultural plaza in the middle of town.

All this concentration on ethnic identity, undertaken by local people with a local purpose of gaining pride and money from the fact of their ethnicity (and in my unverifiable opinion, the pride is at least as important as the income), has moved scholarship on the Yi from a branch of ‹, intended to use the Yi as an example of universal laws and a piece in a puzzle of national unity, to a field of its own, where the purpose is to document, glorify, and above all clarify the history of the Yi themselves.
But internal developments alone were not sufficient to lay the groundwork for the development of Yi studies as a field. It might have happened this way, but in fact Yi studies is an international field, dependent in part for its visibility and financial viability on the participation of international scholars (Ւ߹). And international scholars would not have participated in Yi studies (as opposed to studies of the Yi) without the reevaluation of anthropological stances in the light of colonialist guilt, which preoccupied anthropology all through the 1980s and into the 1990s.
The outcome of this self-searching and re-evaluation (whose detailed process we need not re-re-recount here) was the realization that it was no longer possible to defend the model in which the anthropologist, either a Euro-American or someone else trained by Euro-Americans, spoke in an authoritative voice about the subject, who was most likely (though not always) from someplace besides Europe or America, and had to be spoken for or about. Daniel (find reference) referred to culture as a co-creation of locals and anthropologists; in my mind this is going a bit far, because it seems to me culture exists even if there is nobody there to name, systematize, and objectify it. But the realization that a native voice was necessary for a reasonably accurate portrayal of local knowledge meant that Ւ߹ became actively interested in collaborating with native scholars ա߹ in formulating the re-assessment of Yi society and culture that was itself prompted by the multi-ethnic image of China that was part of China's reforms.
At the same time that it became ideologically required to balance the previous role asymmetry between natives and outsiders, it became much easier to do so with the advent of modern communications technologies. Whereas previously I had to wait three weeks or more for return mail to communicate with my Yi studies colleagues, I can now email the more progressive of them, and fax those who are comparatively technically impaired. And the slight evening out of incomes and available resources means that they can visit here almost as easily as I can visit there, so that collaboration moves from the field to the academy. I no longer feel like the financial patron anymore than I have ever felt like the intellectual patron in this relationship. This made possible a field of Yi studies in which foreign and native participants, though they will always have somewhat different roles, can be very much equal participants.
Thus an important development in international social science (and anthropology in particular) coincided quite auspiciously with important developments in Chinese social science and in Chinese sociopolitical change to plow and harrow the field in which Yi studies would grow.

C. The establishment of Yixue as a field in China

In the circumstances described above, Yi studies could become a field, rather than just a topic. It began internally in China, with the international component added later on. From the early 80s to the mid-90s, the institutions of a scholarly field were constructed by scholars, cadres, and scholarly cadres, with occasional help from entrepreneurs and cadre-entrepreneurs.
The first step in establishing Yi studies in China (and, I suspect, the first step in establishing just about anything, academic or otherwise, in China) consisted of conferences, that peculiar PRC version of the institution through which people travel to someplace (often a nice place) they have all been before to walk slowly around the grounds, read reports whose content they all know already, and eat three huge meals a day. In this process, they validate formerly reached conclusions by stamping them with the consensus of a group of scholar and cadre experts.
Before Yi studies themselves were established as a field, the conference tradition for studying matters exclusively Yi was already flourishing, in Sichuan at least, in the form of study groups for the standardization and regularization of the modern Nuosu script (Harrell and Bamo 1998). But Yi studies conferences proper began in the 1980s, with the Kunming conference (need to get details) in which it was decided, among other things, that the Nuosu term bimox would be adopted to refer to the priesthoods in all the diverse Yi written traditions, and that their knowledge, now defined as that of ethnic intellectuals rather than superstitious practitioners, was a legitimate topic for study and writing. This, to my knowledge, was the first instance of a major research effort that was directed specifically toward Yi concerns, rather than with using the Yi as a case study for some larger or more general theory.
After this, Yi studies conferences were regularized through the efforts of the Society for the Study of Southwest Minorities (‹ߪ), which has a conference every year, but devotes one year in four to specific study of the Yi. The meeting in 1986 (check) was particularly noteworthy, because it produced a massive volume ( Zhongguo Xinan Minzu Yanjiu Hui 1987) that set the groundwork for a series of debates on such topics as the ancestral groups who later became the Yi, the historical evolution of modes of production among Yi peoples, and nature of the stratification system of the Nuosu of Liangshan, a system that was considered to be primitive or prototypical of the nature of Yi society relatively un-influenced by outside forces (see Pan Jiao n.d.). In recent years, these conferences have included some foreign participation, but they are mostly internal Chinese affairs, including both Yi and Han scholars, unlike the international conferences described in the next section.

In addition to conferences, specialized institutes have become important institutions in the construction of the Yi studies field, through the research that they sponsor and particularly through the journals they publish. The first of these was the Institute for Yi Studies Ջߋ in Chuxiong, established in date under the leadership of the redoubtable Liu Yaohan. Liu, now in his 80s, has been a tireless leader in promoting the idea of the antiquity and priority of Yi culture in China, going so far as to maintain that many of the calendrical and ritual institutions of archaic China were Yi inventions, adopted only later by the Hua and Xia people who became the Han (Liu 1985, more). The journal published by Liu's institute, Ջߋ, however, has been much more inclusive of dissenting views, and has become a forum for Yi and Han scholars, and to a limited extend for international scholars, to publish on a large number of Yi topics.
Not long after the founding of the Chuxiong Institute, Liangshan Prefecture in Sichuan followed suit. Originally, in 1991 when the Institute was first established, it was called ‹, but since the population of Liangshan Prefecture after 1978 included about 5% classified as Tibetan, Naxi, Lisu, Hui, and other minorities, in addition to the Yi and Han, the institute was quickly renamed ‹, to the continued disappointment of some local promoters of Yi identity. But it does conduct research on ethnic groups other than the Yi (who in Liangshan are almost exclusively Nuosu), though the vast majority of the work concerns Yi topics, both in Liangshan and to a lesser extent elsewhere. Their journal, ‹ has been published annually since 1992, and has begun to include translated works by foreign authors in each issue.
The maturity of Yi studies as a field is perhaps best indicated by the fact that now not all institutes and journals are local to Yi areas. Centered on Έ¥ۋ in Beijing, there is a network of ethnically Yi scholars, most of them faculty members at that institution, in the areas of language and literature (Leng Fuxiang, and Shama Layi, Qumo Tiexi), comparative religion (Bamo Ayi), history (Huang Jianming), who have formed their own Ջߋ, which has now published two issues of a fat, book-like annual entitled Ջ. In other words, Yi studies is now enough of a field because of its subject matter to be legitimized in an area--the capital--where there are very few Yi, and with a journal title that claims national relevance for its researches. Counting the Liangshan journal, then, which is overwhelmingly if not exclusively Yi in its content, there are now three journals, each published by a different institution, devoted to Yi studies.
One other influential organization bears mentioning because of its unusual structure: the Bamo Sisters' Research Group for Yi Studies. In 1991, as the story goes, vice-prefect Bamo Erha suggested to his daughters--Ayi, Qubumo, and Vusamo--that they in Liangshan, like the Brontë sisters in England, ought to become known for their scholarly accomplishments, and encouraged them to form a formal organization devoted to Yi studies. They have been active in scholarly publishing (they co-authored … in 1992) and in sponsorship of other projects such as recording of folk and popular music and collection of artifacts.
By the mid-1990s, then, Yi studies was a field. It had its topic--the documentation, preservation, analysis, and promotion of Yi culture, defined in terms of the culture of that group of groups that had entered the consciousness of a generation of schoolchildren as the Yi minzu. It had its participants, a dedicated group of Yi scholars as the core, but importantly also a dedicated group of cadres who provided institutional, political, and sometimes financial support for the institutions of scholarship. In addition, Han scholars were not entirely excluded from participation in Yi studies. But there was and is, I think, a difference. In the minds of most of the Yi scholars, Han scholarship on the Yi is tainted, not because of low quality (much of it is impeccable in terms of its erudition and its prose style), but because it often appears to proceed from assumptions of Yi backwardness, inferiority, and most importantly lack of scholarly agency. Han scholars have, in a sense, to prove themselves in any kind of Yi studies context, and some--the late Ma Xueliang foremost among them--have done better than others in this regard. In fact, it seems to me that Han scholars have a more difficult time being accepted than do international scholars as participants in Yi studies.

D. The internationalization of Yi studies

Foreigners have been studying the Yi for a long time: there were the explorers, missionaries, and occasional academics from the 1880s to 1949, and after a hiatus they began again in the 1980s; the first two I know of were Nancy Dowdle, a geographer from the University of Hawai'i, and Thomas Heberer, a fieldwork-inclined political scientist who has been affiliated with several universities in Germany. Both Dowdle and Heberer did short-term field research in Zhaojue and Meigu, the heart of Liangshan, in the early 1980s. Into the late 1980s and early 1990s, a large number of foreign scholars followed in both Yunnan and Sichuan; these included primarily anthropologists (Stevan Harrell, Erik Mueggler, Margaret Swain, Ann Maxwell Hill) but also very significantly the linguist David Bradley and the redoubtable folklorist Sano Kenji of Tsukuba University. But until 1995, they were in no way participants in the emerging field of Yi studies; they were not connected to their Yi counterparts as members of a scholarly community.
At the same time, a limited number of young Yi scholars began studying abroad, conducting studies of Yi topics in the context of disciplinary departments at American and European universities. Three daughters of Wu Jingzhong studied at the University of Michigan: Wu Ga in anthropology, Wu Jie in political science, and Wu Guo in art history; Wu Ga remains very active in Yi studies. Liu Yaohan's daughter Liu Xiaoxing studied anthropology at the University of Illinois, and Lu Hui, granddaughter of Yunnan lieutenant governor Lu Han, received a Ph.D. in anthropology from the École Normale Superieur in Paris. But as with their international colleagues, they were not until the mid-90s members of an international Yi studies community.
This changed somewhat in 1995, when I organized the grandiosely-titled First International Conference on Yi Studies, held in Seattle, with 11 Yi participants, 8 international scholars, and two Han Chinese. That conference (the volume is now in proofs and will be out soon Harrell 2000) appears to have been a turning point in the history of Yi studies, because we spent four days discussing a variety of topics of common interest, including history, social structure, and religion, and for the first time conducted broad conversations on these topics that included Yi scholars with purely domestic training, Yi scholars who were trained outside of China, and scholars of non Chinese origin. Barriers between these categories of people, in terms of the topics discussed, began to be broken down, and domestic scholars recognized that some of their localistic concerns, particularly their attempts to break down the hegemony of the ethnohistorical grid, were shared by their international colleagues.
The second International Conference, with a somewhat larger attendance (about 35 people) was organized by Thomas Heberer and held at the University of Trier, Germany, in June 1998. Many more Yi scholars were able to participate this time (though there were many, many more who wished to attend and could not), and many of the same themes were taken up. As with the first conference, the organizer attempted to set a theme--the revival of ethnic identity--but was unable to hold participants to it, and in this case decided against trying to assemble a conference volume. But I think the reason why it was impossible to keep people to a single theme had less to do with laziness or scatteredness and more to do with the fact that the theme was beside the point--they point was the continued legitimation of Yi studies as an international field of endeavor.
It is significant, then, that the third International Conference in September 2000 will be held in Yi territory, specifically at the famous Stone Forest in the newly renamed Shilin County to the east of Kunming. Projected attendance is about 140 scholars--100 domestic, mostly but not entirely Yi, and 40 foreign, and the organizers are making a sincere effort to have an international style conference, with substantive discussion of pre-distributed papers, rather than a P.R.C. style affair with ritualistic readings of findings already known. At the same time, the conference is about the further legitimation of Yi studies and Yi topics in China, and this involves the participation of cadres as well as foreigners. In order to make the point with local Yi leaders, there have to be a lot of ritualistic activities, ranging from speeches and toasts to dances and bullfights, and foreigners have to attend and participate in these events in addition to the purely scholarly activities. The organizers, Huang Jianmin and Bamo Ayi, thus have to perform a balancing act that will allow the scholarly legitimation of the field as a serious area of research at the same time as it allows the local political legitimation of Yi studies as one contributor to the larger project of promoting Yi identity in multi-ethnic China. This is why the third conference could not be held overseas, no matter how many Yi scholars would like to use it as an opportunity to travel. Tentative plans for the fourth conference, however, project either Australia or Japan as the site.

Conferences are not the only institutions that have emerged as part of the developing international field of Yi studies; it also includes a large number of collaborative research projects, resulting in joint publications. The following is a very incomplete list, heavily weighted toward Liangshan projects, since I know of them before they come out:

David Bradley and Li Yongxiang surveyed Yi dialects in central Yunnan, with U.N. funding, resulting in a broad-based comparative work (refs?)

Stevan Harrell and Ma Erzi conducted work on school attendance among different ethnic groups in Yanyuan, Liangshan, resulting in a joint article (Harrell and Ma 1999)

Stevan Harrell and Bamo Ayi did a content survey of patriotic themes in Nuosu language textbooks, published in the Bulletin of the Concerned Asian Scholars (1998)

Benoît Vermander, Ma Erzi, Bamo Ayi, and Mosi Zzyhxo translated and edited a ritual exorcism text from Meigu county in Liangshan, and published a large-format edited text (Taipei Ricci Institute 1999).

A three-year cooperative project between the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences, the Liangshan Ethnic Research Institute, the Bamo Sisters' Group, and the Universities of Tsukuba and check in Japan produced a copiously illustrated volume on Naxi and Yi material culture, published in Japanese.

Ma Linying and Eric Diehl are beginning a project to collect and analyze all known writings by international travelers and missionaries in Liangshan before 1950.

Stevan Harrell, Bamo Ayi, and Ma Erzi are writing a book of fieldwork and research narratives, telling the story of their collaboration from their different angles. The plan is to publish this in both Chinese and English editions; part of it is available now on the Internet (URL).

Stevan Harrell, Bamo Qubumo, and Ma Erzi mounted the exhibit of Nuosu material culture, Mountain Patterns at the Burke Museum, University of Washington, and wrote the accompanying illustrated volume of the same name (2000).

In addition to strictly collaborative research, the formation of the field of Yi studies has influenced Yi scholars in a different way: they have applied their training in international disciplinary discourses to their work on Yi problems. Particularly noteworthy in this regard are the work of Wu Ga on women and development (refs) of Pan Jiao on ethnicity (refs), and of Bamo Qubumo on the folkloristic analysis of narratives rituals (refs).
Finally, Yi scholars are making strenuous efforts to include Chinese-language versions of the work of international scholars on Yi topics in their journals and in specially published books. For example--sorry to keep bringing up myself as an example--translations of my own works, by Bamo Ayi and Qumo Tiexi, have now appeared in all three Yi studies journals, as well as in the more general ethnic education journal ‡ò. In addition, a volume of my essays, some of them reprinted and some of them not published before, translated by the same pair, will appear next year from Yunnan Nationalities Press. On a slightly less egotistical note, soon to appear--we hope before the Third Yi Studies Conference in September--will be a volume of selected essays on the Yi by many foreign scholars, edited by Bamo Ayi and Huang Jianming.
What this all indicates, it seems to me, is that the products of Yi studies are coming from, and going to, a particular group of people. The contributors include, as a wild guess, about 80% scholars of Yi ethnicity, 10% international scholars, and 10% Han Chinese scholars, though perhaps I am underestimating the contribution and interest of the latter group. The regular audience perforce includes a larger number of Han Chinese and Chinese of other ethnicity who are interested in the topics of ethnology and ethnohistory as they continually evolve in China. We can thus talk not only of a field as a topic of study, but of a field as a community of scholars and researchers who have their social as well as their scholarly connections with each other.

E. Some personal reflections on the state of the social field and what it might mean

Yi studies really is, by now, a field of study and a field of social action, which includes Yi, other Chinese, and foreigners as full participants. This is good; I was ready to quit research in Liangshan until I felt the success of the First International Conference. Now I have become part of it and it has become part of me, and I think it is that way for a lot of other scholars involved in the area. It is as much because of professional friendships with scholars and others as it is because of the interest of the subject matter that I continue in Yi studies; in this sense I am not so different from Yi scholars, who do it because they consider Yi as part of their being.

I worry that in the international collaborations, it is still often foreigners who take the lead. This is, however, changing; I am participating in projects initiated by Ma Linying (through my graduate student, Eric Diehl, in the history of foreign writings on Liangshan) by Bamo Ayi (I wrote a preface for the foreign scholars's writings on the Yi volume) and by Ma Erzi (both Benoît Vermander and I have raised money for and contributed ideas to the building of an experimental elementary school which will open in September of this year).

I also think that one has to be careful not to become embroiled in too ethnic-chauvinist a project. Yi masses are discriminated against, poor, often unhealthy in comparison to Han and other ethnic masses. They have little local autonomy outside the cultural field (though a lot of autonomy there). They want their deserved rights as citizens of China, and not second-class citizens, and they are not separatists or national liberationists (how could they be?). But one has to be careful that ethnic pride or ethnic justice not degenerate into ethnic exceptionalism or ethnic paranoia, which can cause real conflicts. Are we in Yi studies safe from this? Why or why not?

Finally, I wonder if anyone else cares. Is this like Miao studies or Yao studies or Hui studies (just to get the conferees involved) or not? Should they be like this, or do they have other and better models, or do they exist in the same way? Does anyone else care about the Yi? Does the existence of Yi studies as a club make other scholars such as yourselves less likely to be interested in what we write? Do we need to reach out or not? If so, how should we do it?