The discourse of unity in diversity in Contemporary China

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This chapter seeks to critically examine the discourse of hybridity and unity in diversity in contemporary China, using a set of tools and concepts which incorporates Foucault’s genealogical work and governmentality, and Laclau and Mouffe’s discourse theory. The study examines China’s education policy documents (2003–2012) produced by three levels of government, namely, the central government, Sichuan, and the Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture governments in Sichuan and reviews some relevant recent case studies in the literature. Using the above tools, two key discourses are identified: (1) ‘ethnic cultural and linguistic diversity’ and (2) ‘Han-dominated unity’, which (r)evolve around a center of economic development, and which are found to be present in all the documents on minority education and in the empirical data revealed in the case studies. In employing the two conflicting discourses of ethnic identities and Han universalism, the governments produce a hybrid discourse, coherent enough to build and maintain hegemony, but not immune to resistance by ethnic minorities in its present form. A more collaborative discourse is envisaged.


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