The Birth of Modern Qiang-People: From Cognitive Perspective
From Rogers Brubaker’s theoretical concepts, this paper will review Ming-Ke Wang’s “border study” of the Qiang-people. Brubaker’s cognitive perspective on ethnic studies is an approach which has not been paid enough attention to, but I argue that it can bring much benefit to the border studies. To integrate primordial, instrumental, as well as the constructionist point of views, here we choose to focus on “ethnicity” rather than on the “ethnic group”. I further illustrate that the emergence of the so-called “border ethnic groups” can be strongly contingent. Yet previous studies using “border approach” and the prevalent theories have paid most attention on the issue of ethnic boundary-making, so they have overlooked the phenomenon of assimilation inclination. On the foundation of cognitive perspective, primordial history does not necessarily contradict with constructionism. Indeed, Brubaker’s cognitive perspective still has its constraint. If neurobiology cannot explicit the mechanisms of how human cognition is constructed, it is hard to take Brubaker’s method as an alternative to prevalent theories. This paper proposes that such approach should be consolidated with other sociological theories, such as Luhmann’s system theory, to improve its implication on the cognitive perspective and ethnic studies in the future.