Ancient Food Traditions and Ethnic Identity in the South of China

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Daniel Clark
CHI4930.006
10/10/2011

Ancient food Traditions and Ethnic identity in the South of China A wide range of cultural factors are influential in the building of a people’s ethnic identity. Among the more publicized subjects related to ethnic identity in China, are political, religious, and economic topics. Still other subjects are related to issues of territorial independence or succession from China proper. Study in these areas has been relatively extensive and thorough due in part to their immediate importance to the national leadership of China and to the international community as a whole. In order to balance the emphasis put on controversial subjects, my personal research area will focus on both tangible culture; food, drink, traditional and folk medicinal foods, etc., and the intangible methods, transformations, and processes relevant to their production. These fundamental aspects of human life are equally important to daily life as they are to defining cultural and ethnic identity. Thusly by studying food related methodologies we are able to directly contribute to the strengthening of ethnic identity by conserving that group’s cultural base- its core beliefs, knowledge, and practices. Food related topics are critical to the concept of intellectual property rights of indigenous peoples. This initiative seeks to give native groups self-determination on how indigenous knowledge and its products may be used and the compensation required. Therefore, research of horticulture and farming methods, food preservation and transformation methods, as well as dietary theories and therapies are critical to preserving cultural bases and for empowering ethnic groups to reap greater economic benefit from their native ingenuity. The south of China; for our purposes the area from Zhejiang province on the east coast to Guangxi province on the western border, is the area originally inhabited by a vital population with an ancient history stretching back nearly...
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