Preferential Education Policies in Multi-ethnic China : National Rhetoric, Local Realities book cover
1st Edition

Preferential Education Policies in Multi-ethnic China
National Rhetoric, Local Realities

ISBN 9780367491390
Published October 30, 2020 by Routledge
222 Pages 6 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Preferential Education Policies in Multi-ethnic China: National Rhetoric, Local Realities explores the cultural logic of China’s preferential policy measures. Similar in premise but different in practice and philosophy to American affirmative action, the preferential policies evoke controversy on all sides: from those who see the measures as insufficient to address problems of educational disparities between ethnic groups, and from those who see the measures as "reverse discrimination." Yamada shows how the policy measures attempt to manage ethnic-based contradictions and appease both majority and minority populations.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Preferential Policies And Preparatory Programs 2. The Cultural Logic of Policy: Producing and Reproducing the Educated Person 3. Strategy and Counter-Strategy: The Landscape of Higher Education in China 4. Standardization and Modification: ‘Minority’ as a Type of Education 5. The Fine Lines of Contradiction: Tolerable Forms of Difference 6. A Stable Rationale, A Changing Economy: Education and the Means of Development 7. Conclusion: A Dialectic without Synthesis?

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Naomi C.F. Yamada is an Assistant Professor in the Center for Education of Global Communication, Faculty of Humanities and Social Sciences, University of Tsukuba, Japan. She received her PhD in Anthropology from the University of Hawai'i at Mānoa.


"This is an incredible ethnography of a key dimension of ethnic minority access to higher education. Yamada’s dug deep into remote ethnic communities in China’s northwest to see what centrally devised preferential treatment policies actually mean in practice for majority and minority groups. She provides us with a magnificently executed study that is carefully composed, highly detailed, and accessible to a broad audience. It is an important contribution to the literature on China’s ethnic minority education and the debate about pluralism and assimilation." -Gerard A. Postiglione, Series Editor of Education and Society in China, Hong Kong

"The author has a fine feel for the underlying ideology of 'multiculturalism with Chinese characteristics' that demands conformity to standard Han education under control of the Chinese Communist Party. The work sheds much light on larger issues of ethnic relations and policy to allow certain regions to catch up with national development for which the cultivation of the "educated person" through remedial classes is seen as a corrective. I commend this in-depth study to all who seek to understand not only Chinese education, particularly as it is coming to be ruled by the Xi Jinping administration, but also the more recently exposed, fraught Sino-minority relations in the vast Chinese borderlands." -Vilma Seeberg, Professor of International-Multicultural Education, Kent State University, United States of America

"Yamada’s book can be deemed as by far the most in-depth analysis of China’s preferential policy for ethnic minority students. This long-established affirmative treatment is seemingly clear-cut and indisputable. Amazingly, Yamada has avoided a banality in examining this familiar everyday policy. The excellence of this research output features "being real" (over a decade-long ethnographic research journey), "being insightful" (situating the discussion amid China’s grand social-economic transformation), as well as "being reader-friendly" (striking a nuanced balance between a thick description of personal stories and theoretical interpretation)." -Chen Yangbin, PhD, La Trobe University, Australia

"Preferential Education Policies in Multi-ethnic China: National Rhetoric, Local Realities by Naomi Yamada analyzes policies related to education in minority areas of China and offers a detailed case study of how these policies are experienced, based on extensive fieldwork in Qinghai Province. The book provides an engaging treatment of the historical roots of these policies and of their theoretical underpinnings. Moving to the present time, the book offers an illuminating discussion of opportunity structures in place now, as experienced by students and teachers in the system. Beyond its appeal to scholars of education in China, this book is a welcome addition to the comparative literature on ethnicity and education." -Emily Hannum, Associate Dean of Social Sciences at University of Pennsylvania, United States of America