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Macalester College

Publication Date

Fall 2015

Program Name

China: Language, Cultures, and Ethnic Minorities


Is tourism really the biggest harm to Mosuo culture? Mosuo people are often the center of studies about how tourism affects the traditions and cultures of minority groups, but there is little focus on the other influences that change Mosuo culture. This study focuses on the lives of the Mosuo in Luoshui village, and how their everyday lives are influenced by the world outside of the village. Without knowing the causes of changes in the Mosuo village, there is little hope for fixing the situation and keeping dying traditions alive. Looking into their religion, education, and the holiday shazhu, as well as day-to-day interaction with tourists and current day zouhuns, this study investigates how the Mosuo overcome the daily struggles between their Mosuo identity and the tourist industry, and what is currently influencing their culture the most.

The study takes place over a span of three and a half weeks, involving nine informal interviews of people, both Mosuo and non-Mosuo, living in Luoshui Village at the time of the study, with additional ethnographic and observational field notes about the lives and cultures of the people. Findings concluded that the Mosuo have become used to the tourist industry and are no longer facing new, harmful influences by the tourists, more so by the foreigners who have begun living in Luoshui. The Mosuo have learned how to interact with the tourists in a way that gives them an income, and they can educate the tourists on the Mosuo lifestyle. On the other hand, Mosuo are losing their contact with Mosuo culture due to leaving the village for education and opportunities for jobs they could not find in the village. The separation of the Mosuo people and the integration of them into predominately non-Mosuo areas, including children’s boarding school, dissolvethe existing Mosuo culture. Even when they doreturn, they bring pieces of the outside world with them, infiltrating the Mosuo village. While tourism allows Mosuo to show off their culture to those interested, leaving the village and going elsewhere suppresses the Mosuo culture.


Family, Life Course, and Society | Inequality and Stratification | Politics and Social Change | Race and Ethnicity | Sociology of Culture | Tourism


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