The uneven work of sustainability

Schooling, tourism, and rural development in Southwest China

Authored by: Jinting Wu

Routledge International Handbook of Schools and Schooling in Asia

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138908499
eBook ISBN: 9781315694382
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter examines the elusive concept of sustainability in Southwest China and illustrates that environment, education, and development are integral dimensions of sustainability that are complexly intertwined during a process of rapid rural transformation. In the Miao and Dong ethnic villages of Guizhou Province, development processes, education policies, and local environment are closely entangled to shape the politics of rural livelihood and the broader social-educational landscape. On the one hand, a new mode of environmental-cultural travels has led to the rise of tourism as a development priority in rural ethnic regions. Tourism has changed the way the rural environment is defined and acted upon, and has also penetrated the physical sites of the schools to exert palpable influence on the lives of students and teachers. Meanwhile, conceived as a ticket out of poverty, education is also tightly coupled with the developmental rationality to produce an urban-oriented workforce. What remains little discussed is the radical challenge this transformation poses for cultural diversity, local environment, folk learning, and ecological consciousness, aspects of an integrated whole of sustainability. This chapter calls us to draw upon indigenous cultural and ecological funds of knowledge to rethink sustainability beyond an instrumental framework.

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