On May 12th, 2008, an earthquake measuring 8.0 Ms hit the Ngawa Tibetan and Qiang Autonomous Prefecture in Sihuan Province in Southwestern China. Radish Village, just forty miles from the epicenter and at an elevation of around 2000 kilometers, where houses were built from yellow mud, was shaken to the ground. The earthquake dislodged layers of local history, turning the Qiang region into a blank slate for state intervention.
The fate of Radish Village is a microcosm of the negotiation between local cultural fluidity and imposed Han cultural hegemony.
The making of the “Qiang” ethnic minority stands upon the unmaking of deposed Qiang customs and memories. The making of China, similarly, is at the expense of the unmaking of many possible Chinas.