The dynamic of Dai cultural landscape in Dehong in the sociopolitical context of China
Cultural landscapes of ethnic groups represent the evolution of human society over place and time. This paper explores the cultural landscape of Dai ethnic minority in Dehong of South China. Based on the qualitative field study in a case study village in Lianghe Township, this paper explores the characteristics of the village and houses and in-depth interviews with village leaders and residents. The analysis of findings reveals the characteristics of Dai cultural landscape which have been constructed under the sociopolitical forces in China over time and have resulted in today’s dualistic patterns of Dai/Chinese cultural landscape that are not observable in other Dai cultural territories. Apparently from the study, the Dai characteristics persist in terms of spatial and social elements of settlement and village and peasant ways of life of the villagers whilst Chinese characteristics have influenced more in terms of houses and the ways of life inside. Their hybrid Chinese/Dai built forms. Their hybrid forms exhibit the means by which an ethnic minority find their ways to maintain ethnic identity while assimilating, forcibly and voluntary, into a more dominant culture. The social construction of dualistic identity, which involves the negotiation of powers and reinterpretation of different belief systems, has raised questions on the preservation of cultural heterogeneity. Finally, this study contributes to other social and architectural studies seeking to understand the production of ethnic minorities, which encounter the dynamic forces and factors in both regional and global contexts.