Victor Konrad
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Expanded border imaginaries and aligned border narratives
Ethnic minorities and localities in China’s border encounters with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam
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This chapter focuses on China’s encounters and negotiations across its borders with Myanmar, Laos and Vietnam where cross-border interaction and enhanced mobility play an increasingly more important role. It shows how narratives and imaginaries of border crossings and processes contribute to border negotiation in the public sphere, and, particularly, how these aesthetic forms deliver a range of top-down and bottom-up discourses among national interests and a richly intertwined tapestry of minorities in the region. On the basis of field research in the localities of Ruili, Kokang and Dalou/Mongla along the China–Myanmar border, the China–Laos border at Mohan/Boten and the China–Myanmar border at Hekou, it is shown how images and narratives of borders and borderlands function differently at different levels of discourse in the public sphere, but also that border space allows these diverse discourses to co-exist, particularly if the border space accommodates plural cultural memories. Making visible and giving voice through border images and narratives empowers minority constituencies, as long as the local images and narratives do not eclipse the national discourse. The border functions as a catalyst for mediating and merging of various border narratives as well as negotiations in the border space.

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Border images, border narratives

The political aesthetics of boundaries and crossings

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