Anonymous voices and authorship politics in printed genealogies in Eastern Guizhou

Mei-Ling Chien*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Scopus citations


This paper analyzes two versions of a printed genealogy collated by the Hmub and Kam in Eastern Guizhou, who gave authority to claims of consanguine bonds. It focuses on how the main text of the genealogy and other intertextual practices can either attribute authority to the genealogies or undermine it. On the one hand, elite accounts of ancestors in the genealogies invent a strong ideology of consanguinity that directly contributes to the text’s authority. At the same time, however, the use of Chinese characters to represent the Hmub phonetic system coexists with the Hmub system of patronymy within the assemblage of the individual descendant names. In other words, Chinese characters represent nonpersonal phonetic symbols of the Hmub language. This in turn means that anonymous voices can emerge in other texts. The result is a shift in the nature of authorship from an overtly collective authority to a covertly diffused anonymity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)204-217
Number of pages14
JournalAsian Ethnicity
Issue number2
StatePublished - 3 Apr 2017


  • Eastern Guizhou
  • Southwest China
  • authorship
  • imagined community
  • intertextuality
  • materiality
  • orality and literacy


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