Previous studies on disaster aid emphasize on how aid as gift forms hierarchical relations and thus perpetuates political and symbolic domination. This article, however, highlights the diverse possibilities and capabilities emerged in disaster aid. Based on a 15-month fieldwork, the authors focus on the ethnic minority Qiang’s post-earthquake experience throughout the unprecedented aid and state-sanctioned ‘Gratitude Education’ campaign. This article argues that the moral obligations of gratitude enabled the Qiang’s competition for tourism, education, and other public service resources despite submitting to a seemingly imbalanced power relation in the multi-ethnic region of southwest China. The article further argues that ethnic governance in China is structured on the entanglement of gift exchanges, state control, inter-ethnic competition, and the in-betweeness of ethnic members, which can be problematic yet productive.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Geography, Planning and Development
- Political Science and International Relations