Between Modern Schooling and Cultural Heritage: Education and Ethnicity in Southwest China

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis (compilation)


Since the late 1970s, China has experienced remarkable socioeconomic development. The trend towards marketisation and modernisation overturned culturally-rooted lifestyles, and more and more ethnic minorities in China have started to regard their traditional cultures as irrelevant to their livelihoods and future and chosen to move away from them. This poses a threat to the idea of ethnic diversity within the unity of the Chinese nation state. In response, the Chinese government has implemented a series of strategies to integrate ethnic minority culture into modern schooling to maintain cultural heritage.
The overall aim of the thesis is to contribute to a critical understanding of how ethnic minority culture is integrated into school practices, inside and outside classrooms; what kinds of challenges in teaching and administration teachers encounter in Chinese ethnic minority regions specifically regarding ethnic Dai and ethnic Tujia; and how pre-service teachers are prepared in present teacher education programmes in ethnic minority areas. Drawing on the theoretical frameworks of multicultural education and internal orientalism, this thesis contextualises multicultural education by analysing Chinese acedemic debates on the subject as well as by investigating how political, social and cultural forces influence education for ethnic minorities in Southwest China.
The data for this thesis consists of sampled literature on the topic of “education and ethnicity” in Chinese academia for a literature review, as well as empirical data collected using a qualitative approach, including interviews with school teachers and teacher educators, focus group discussions with school teachers and document analysis of teacher education syllabuses.
The overall findings show that the major insights of international scholarship on multicultural education since 1970 has not significantly informed on ethnic minority education research in China; the manifestations of ethnic minority culture within the school context are superficial and largely in the form of static cultural artefacts; teachers’ practices of integrating cultural content are performed as add-ons; and cultivation of multicultural competence for work in ethnic minority education amongst pre-service teachers is, to a great extent, missing from teacher education programmes.


  • Wei Wang
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Pedagogy


  • Modern schooling, Cultural heritage, Ethnic minority education, Teacher, Teacher education, Teacher educator, Multicultural education, Internal Orientalism, Xishuangbanna (西双版纳), Qianjiang (黔江), Dai (傣族), Tujia (土家族), China
Translated title of the contributionMellan modern skolundervisning och kulturarv: Utbildning och etnicitet i sydvästra Kina
Original languageEnglish
Awarding Institution
Supervisors/Assistant supervisor
Thesis sponsors
  • Chinese Scholarship Council
  • Crafoord Foundation
Award date2019 Mar 12
Place of PublicationLund
  • Lund University
Print ISBNs978-91-7753-997-1
Electronic ISBNs978-91-7895-000-3
Publication statusPublished - 2019 Feb 6
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

Defence details Date: 2019-03-12 Time: 13:15 Place: Palaestra, Tegnersplatsen, Lund External reviewer(s) Name: Halskov Hansen, Mette Title: Professor Affiliation: Oslo University, Norway ---

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