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Extramarital Court and Flirt of Guizhou Miao

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The Miao in Eastern Guizhou, Hmub is providing an alternative in the theorizing of courtship and marriage, since they have a flirtation zone for continued expression of personal desire within a larger context of social restraint. Today, much like before 1949, there are two forms of institutional flirt as manifested in everyday and ritualized settings. One is the long term flirtation alliance lasting during the life time of one's own marriage, while the short term will end either with a break up or marriage. The textual description of the Hmub courting songs also reveals there are no necessary relations between marriage and courtship, and the hybrid display of flirtatious physical contacts are among courting men and women with diverse genealogical ties, affinal relations and marital status—unmarried and married. Along this direction, this article explores how the Hmub may be a special case of allowing for a private personal emotional zone to be created within a highly structured or institutional setting that honors social status, age and gender separation. Institutionalized flirting of the Hmub does serve as a means to an end—marriage, a sociological identity. It is also the psychological reassurance of one's personal identity in the form of a viable, sexual and desirable human being.

Affiliations: 1: National Chiao Tung University, Hsinchu, Taiwan;, Email:


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