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Xiakou: Moral Landscape in a Sichuan Mountain Village

Moral Landscape in a Sichuan Mountain Village explores the histories, beliefs, livelihoods, and local identities in Xiakou (sha-ko) Village, located in the mountains of Ya'an County, in western Sichuan Province of the People's Republic of China. The ethnography is a joint effort of a historian (John Flower) and an anthropologist (Pamela Leonard), and is based on the extensive fieldwork research we have carried out in the area since 1991. Our goal is to understand Xiakou Village as an evolving moral landscape, defined as the interwoven field of physical environment, historical memory, and moral agency in which people interact with place. This approach builds on the villagers idea that the natural order and the moral order are fundamentally linked; therefore, we look at the landscape of the village as at once a resource for economic production, a metaphor for social relations, and an inscription of historical memory. By asking how particular places gather a people's sense of themselves, the ethnography reveals how issues of environment, development, and local history are connected at the grassroots level in the Chinese countryside.

This project is also a digital ethnography that explores new ways of presenting a body of research in digital form, online. The digital ethnography is an interactive presentation of focused, long-term fieldwork research results in the form of an online monograph, media archive, a relational database, and GIS mapping. Our aim is to use the project's digital form to reinforce its ethnographic content, using new technologies to render more transparent the relationship between source and interpretation, to open up non-linear narrative paths through the ethnography, and therefore to more vividly reveal the interconnections among different dimensions of village life that are the core content of the project

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Sichuan Village