The intention of my project is to investigate the variegated narratives of North-West China. The dynamics by which cultural characteristics generates and forms narratives remains poorly understood. For example, it is often pointed out that ethnic groups such as Hui or Manchu shares close cultural proximity to Han. The implicit understanding is that cultural proximity equals some sort of similar "mindset", and that this gives rise to similar narratives. But not only is the notion of "mindset" a poor analytical tool, it is also prone to fall prey to creating unconvincing stereotypizations.

Instead, I propose to investigate the dynamics of narratives by applying the notion of "sphericules". The core idea is that in an increasinlgy globalized society, everyone communicates more or less with everyone. However, we do communicate more with some than with others. This creates segregated sphericules of communication. It is within these sphericules that understandings of reality form. While the sphericules are not entirely isolated, external communications are relatively limited, and perceptions take on their own lives within these sphericules. From this perspective, various aspects of culture may be explained under one common denominator.

The question then becomes to what extent Han and minorities such as Hui resides within the same ”sphericule”. My hope is that by analyzing my findings from this perspective, it will be possible to investigate the ”common-sense theory” of Hui-Han cultural proximity and the ethnic dynamics of North-West China in a more systematic and applicable manner.

Please contact Kim Jarle Wroldsen for a short manuscript to everyone who wants to join the colloquium.

Read more about Kim Jarle Wroldsen here.