The Fourth International Conference on Yi Studies:
Bimo Practice, Traditional Knowledge, and Ecosystem Sustainability
in the 21st Century
March 10, 2005
Yi studies has a history of over a hundred years as an interdisciplinary, international field of study. Already in the last half of the 19th century, European scholars' research on Yi peoples such as Sani, Axi, and Nuosu opened the wellspring of Yi Studies. During the 1930s and 40s, Chinese ethnologists produced rich research results dealing with the society, history, religion, language, and historical documents of Yi people. In the 1950s, the Historical and Social Investigations and the research on the social structure of the Liangshan Yi also yielded rich materials. For the following twenty years, international Yi studies was stalled, and it was not until the 1980s, along with the quickening pace of the Chinese policy of Reform and Opening, which Yi studies welcomed a new springtime. Currently, the breadth and depth of Yi studies exceed any comparable period in the past, the ranks of Yi studies researchers increase all the time, and international exchange and cooperation continue to become more common and more diverse.
In March 1995, the First international Yi studies conference was organized by American Anthropologist Stevan Harrell, and took place successfully at the University of Washington in Seattle; in June 1998, the Second International Yi Studies Conference was organized by German political scientist Thomas Heberer, and was a great success at the University of Trier in Karl Marx's home town. In September, 2000, the Third International Conference was held in Yi territory in Ashima's home town of Shilin in Yunnan, celebrating "the return of Yi Studies to its home territory after a hundred years." Preparations for the Fourth International Conference on Yi Studies and Conference on Bimo Culture are now in full swing, and it will be held around the time of the Fire Festival, in August 2005 in the heartland of Bimo Culture in Meigu County, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan.
In accord with the blueprint of our great national effort to Open the West, the Party Committee, People's Government, and cultural units of Meigu County, Liangshan Prefecture have undertaken a large-scale program of architectural and cultural construction to take advantage of the cultural resources and scholarly opportunities of the local area, and have not only built the first ever center for research into Bimo Culture, but have also formulated plants to build the first "great cultural county" in Liangshan prefecture. In April of last year, the Institute of Ethnic Literature of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences and the People's Government of Meigu County joined together to establish the "Field Research Station for the Study of Yi Oral Tradition," and formally established an agreement of cooperation. This is another research station for the study of oral tradition following those already established by our Institute in Jaruud in Inner Mongolia, Mdzod-dge in, Sichuan, Mgo-lok in Qinghai, Tianyang in Guangxi, Akqi in Xinjiang, and Liping in Guizhou.
In order to take a further step forward in promoting interdisciplinary and international cooperation in Yi studies, domestic and international scholars of Yi studies, particularly owing to the untiring efforts of Professor Stevan Harrell, Yi scholars in Liangshan, along with the Institute for Ethnic Literature have carried out a great amount of cooperative effort to assure the smooth operation of the Fourth International Conference on Yi Studies, and have procured financial help from the Party Committee and the People's Government of Meigu County, Liangshan Prefecture, Sichuan. Last year, the Meigu People's Government formally requested the cooperation of the Institute of Ethnic Literature in carrying out the Fourth Conference, and received an enthusiastically positive response. In February of this year, obtaining the approval of the Cultural Bureau of the Sichuan Provincial People's Government and of the Sichuan Provincial Office of Foreign Affairs, the Bureau of International Cooperation (BIC) of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences (CASS) officially approved the report of the plans for the Fourth International Yi Studies Conference.
One of the central themes of this conference is Bimo Culture. Bimo Culture is an ancient, profound, and brilliant tradition that stands out in the long historical stream of China's Yi culture. Professor Ma Xueliang said, "Bimo ritual texts are the core of Yi traditional culture, and are connected to Yi social structure, historical development, cultural tradition, ethnic psychology, ethnic identities and other questions. Research into Bimo culture can be called a single strand that connects to the whole body." A Yi proverb says, shuonuo bi bbopa, "the origin of the bimo is under a heap of yellow grass." Meigu is the "home of the Bimo;" located in the heart of Old Liangshan, it is rich in natural and human resources. On the road that the forbears of the Nuosu Yi took when they moved from Yunnan into Sichuan, Limu Mogu (the Yi name for Meigu) already became a sacred spot in Yi history and culture; not only has it accumulated over a thousand years of history chanted in historical epics, but also its mysterious, profound, and rich tradition has been transmitted here in the name of the great Bimo teacher Asu Lazzi. Yi philosophical thought, history and geography, education and ethics, astronomy and calendrics, literature and art, customs and rituals, agricultural and medical knowledge have all been transmitted and disseminated through Bimo culture, and all were conceived, nurtured, and set in motion in this ancient soil of Meigu. This has left an inextinguishable cultural creativity, and deposited extraordinarily rich layers of literary classics and oral tradition. Therefore, holding this great international conference in Meigu has important scholarly significance and social and cultural influence. Here we lay out the significant details of this 4th international conference on Yi studies and conference on Bimo culture.
Dear colleagues, you're more than welcome to join us! Your participation and cooperation we will be great appreciated.
Look forward to meeting with you in beautiful Meigu...
The 4th International Conference on Yi-Studies
The Name of the Conference:
The Fourth International Conference on Yi Studies:
Bimo Practice, Traditional Knowledge, and Ecosystem Sustainability in the 21st Century
Time and Place of the Conference：
a) Time: August 19-24, 2005; 5 days total; 3 days conference, 2 days field investigations:
August 19: Reporting date.
August 20-22: Scholarly Conference
August 23-14: Field Investigations
b) Place: Bapu Town, Meigu County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, China.
Lodging for Conference Attendees: Meigu Hotel
Conference Meeting Location: Meigu People's Government Conference Center.
Scope of the Conference:
The number of conference attendees will be less than 100, with approximately 30 foreign and 70 Chinese attendees.
Conference expenses will be covered by the People's Government of Meigu County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Prefecture, Sichuan, which has full authority to undertake these expenses.
Supplemental Information to First Circular
March 16, 2005
On behalf of the Organizing Committee, it was our pleasure to provide you with the First Circular consisting of Preliminary Program and other general information about The Fourth International Conference on Yi Studies, which has sent to you around the 10 th of March via Prof. Stevan Harrell in the States, Prof. Sano Kenji and Dr. Fan Xiuli in Japan, and Prof. Bamo Qubumo in Beijing.
By now we have received confirmations and queries from some possible participants, primarily concerning conference funds and abstract translations. We feel it is necessary to make a supplemental explanation with more details here.
The conference setting will be located in Bapu Town of Meigu County, where is in the midst of the historical center of Yynuo sub-branch of the Nuosu Yi. The People's Government of Meigu County will contribute to making your free stay (and two-day-fieldwork in local villages).
Thus far, the Preparatory Committee has obtained a sufficient funding to provide accommodation, food, and local transportation for international scholars attending the conference, taking parting in field investigation, and to submit the publication of the conference results.
The committee regrets that it does not have sufficient funds to pay for travel to and from Xichang Qingshan Airport/Railway Station, and requests that scholars traveling to the conference seek their own funding for international and domestic travel.
It is our wish that the participants will submit a bilingual (English and Chinese) version of both paper abstract and resume before April 15. We understand it is difficult for some scholars to work out under the tighter schedule. Please contact us if you need our help and send us your Registration Form as soon as possible, then we will have enough time to deal with English/Chinese Translation for you.
Publication of Results:
We plan to publish an edited volume of conference papers in Chinese, with English abstracts, within 6 months of the close of the Fourth Conference. We will request that you send a Chinese version of your complete paper along with an abstract in English if you would like to join the collection of papers.
Panels and Discussants:
The conference is interdisciplinary and concerns an area-- Bimo Practice, Traditional Knowledge, and Ecosystem Sustainability --whose importance has increased in the present-day Yi Studies. The conference itself will consist of plenary meetings, panels, and field surveys. The preliminary structure of the 4th Conference will be set forth on the basis of the completed paper abstracts of the participants according to the Participants Registration Form. All of you are welcome to send your suggestions in advance, by filling out the panel form online or by sending a personal letter or E-mail message to us at your convenience --the deadline is July 10th, 2005.
The scholarship committee for the Fourth International Conference shall have worked out the final program by July 15th, 2005. Your suggestions and proposals for Panels and Discussants are welcome.
We hope to organize a comprehensive exhibition of books and journals on Yi studies published in China during the past decades, including two categories: one of scholarly works in all languages, and one of historical documents in Chinese and various Yi languages.
In order to facilitate the Exhibition, we will send invitation to domestic publishing houses and editorial board of journals and magazines related to Yi Studies and to call for taking parting the Publication Exhibition.
If there are books or journals of particular interest that might be exhibited at the conference, please bring them with you, and they will be included in the exhibition.
The conference website has been underway at where General Information, Registration, Paper Panels, Participants, Exhibition Information, Sponsorship, Travel/Hotel Info, and Local Information will be updated timely. Please understand that the Digital Studio at IEL can't update the website until they have the approval from the authority concerned on March 21 (Monday), 2005. We regret that there will be a couple of days' delay than we announced in the First Circular.
In closing, we much appreciate your participation, consideration, and cooperation. Judging by the initial responses, it seems that the conference promises to be an exciting and fruitful gathering in Moggu (Meigu)—“central zone”-- of the Great Cold Mountains.
Please let us know if you have any questions, or need any additional arrangement.
We look forward to having each of you with us in Moggu.
The 4th International Conference on Yi-Studies