Sunday, June 13, 2010

Market day in Butuo

Today was a two-interview day (my second in three days), so I'm too tired to post a real entry. Interviews are probably the most interesting but also the most exhausting part of fieldwork--as much as I enjoy speaking Chinese (well, sort of) having long, fairly technical conversations in Chinese and trying to simultaneously write a comprehensible record of the conversation makes me want to crawl into bed. Although a given interview rarely lasts more than an hour, the whole process--setting it up, getting to and from the interviewee's office, doing the interview, writing up my notes after the interview--usually takes somewhere between four and six hours. At the same time, I've gotten to meet a lot of bright, idealistic people who are doing their best to make this enormously complicated country a little better, and that alone can make up for the isolation, self-doubt and frustration that seem to be unavoidable parts of fieldwork.

I never got around to writing about the time Devin and I spent in southern Sichuan province, and I still hope to do that at some point. In the meantime, though, here are some photos from the market day in the county seat. Notice the many Yi minority women wearing "liberation hats"--blue cloth military caps. Apparently Yi women in this area used to wear extremely expensive, ornate headdresses that were so heavy they literally had trouble getting up once they sat down because the extra weight on their heads was so great. After the Communist victory in 1949, Yi women started wearing these blue caps instead. Having a particularly tall cap is trendy among teenage Yi girls, so many girls stuff their hats with toilet paper to make them sit higher on their heads. As much as I wish liberation caps were a widespread practice, it seems like they are limited to this one county--even in the next county over Yi women wore a totally different style of hat.

Also note the bizarre blanket-capes that many people, especially older people like the woman below, are wearing. These are homemade and are worn in cold weather instead of coats.

No comments:

Post a Comment