Guest Lecture: Mirroring Audiences through Performed Song in an Ethnic Minority Village in Southwest China


Time: 12:15-13:00 April 6, 2017

Venue: P722, University of Helsinki

Speaker: Suvi Rautio


Since the growth of the post-Mao socialist market economy, Chinese heritage has been central to cultural state policy. Eager to move beyond politics of Maoist class struggle, China’s cultural policy seeks to portray a reconciled history carrying the notion of ‘Chinese-ness’ separate from lived memory. Most apparent in state-led efforts to restore historical relics and rejuvenate culture, China’s heritage sites act as vehicles that recite narratives of a shared common culture to strengthen national unity and legitimise the party-state.  By taking a more sideways approach to studying heritage-making in China, Rautio’s presentation revisits the workings behind preservation by focusing on ethnic minority aesthetic representation through performed song. Her presentation is based a thirteen months of ethnographic research in an ethnic minority Kam (dong 侗) village in southwest China still at the preparatory phase of becoming a nationally and globally reclaimed heritage site.


Suvi Rautio is doing her PhD in Social and Cultural Anthropology at the University of Helsinki. Her research concerns everyday lives of a Kam (Dong 侗 in Mandarin) ethnic minority village in rural Guizhou province, Southwest China. In studying the intricacies that surface through daily interactions and relationships shaped between and across villagers and key actors involved in the government-led development of the village, her work explores how appearances are exhibited and performed, from the shallow to the profound. Her research interests lie in state-society relations and their connection to representation, aesthetics and morality.

Rautio first got involved in research in rural Guizhou in 2014, when she was invited by China’s Global Heritage program director, Li Kuanghan, to design and implement a village-wide social demographic survey. This visit established her long-term role in the village as she proceeded with her doctoral fieldwork independently with the occasional support of Miss Li and her research team.

Rautio holds a MA from the University of Glasgow and MSc from the London School of Economics and Political Science. Her research has been financially supported by the Joel Toivola Foundation, Ryoichi Sasakawa Young Leaders Fellowship Fund and currently she holds a four-year fellowship from the University of Helsinki.