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Perspectives On The Environment In Miao And Yi Creation Narratives

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Chapter Summary

In recent decades the idea of a "green" view of written and oral literature has developed as new questions of humankind's relation to the increasingly less "natural" environment have come to the fore as nations and peoples relentlessly pressure traditionally exploited sources of water, and energy. Both environmentally focused literary scholars and folklorists - especially in the "ethnopoetics" movement - have looked to native literatures for alternative views on relations between humans and local ecology in hopes of constructively re-discovering knowledge of the traditional "old ways" that can provide sensitive and non-adversarial perspectives on nature in response to the onslaught of rapidly environmental change on a global scale. In line with the rising interest in "eco" and "ethno" dimensions of oral literature this chapter presents an initial comparative look at versions of creation epics documented in local communities of the Miao and Yi - two large and diverse ethnic groups with long histories in Southwest China.

Keywords: China; creation epics; environment; ethnic groups; ethnopoetics movement¸ oral literature; Miao; Yi



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