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12.00  The Reconstruction of Zongzu as a Cultural Heritage in China

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9:00, Sunday 5 Jun 2016 (30 minutes)

Zongzu (宗族, the parental lineage group) as a traditional Chinese way of holding people together by means of descent lines and blood ties, had been cancelled since the foundation of the People’s Republic of China. Especially during the Cultural Revolution, zongzu was viewed as “backward” and “feudal.” However, since the reform and open policy, the non-authorized reconstruction of zongzu has been reappearing, especially in southern China. 

Taking zongzu as a cultural heritage, this paper will explore how the local residents propose non-authorized version of heritage, utilize emotional and affective responses to rewrite the past and to reconstruct zongzu, in order to promote the communication among the lineage members and to enhance the villagers’ sense of belonging to their hometown. 

We have done ethnographic fieldwork on Zhu’s parental lineage group (朱氏宗族) in Xiacun village, Qingtian County (青田县), Zhejiang province. The villagers have a tradition of seeking opportunities all over the world since late Qing dynasties. Nowadays the majority of the villagers have settled abroad, only to leave the elders who are reluctant to leave their hometown. Using analyses of multimedia, archival records and interviews, this paper investigates how the members use the reconstruction of Zhu’s lineage to make people (especially overseas villagers) have more sentiments toward their ancestors and the living place, such as rebuilding the ancestral temple and ancestors’ tombs, rewriting the lineage genealogies, holding many lineage practices and activities, etc. All these help to strengthen the connection between the overseas villagers and this village. It seems to tell them that their ancestors are from Xiacun village and their cultural roots are in China.

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