Does Kunming have any cultural centers or universities that offer weekly classes on Chinese culture or history? I'm not looking for Chinese language classes, since I already take those.
A university will probably provide a state sanctioned, sanitised, idealised view of culture and probably now updated to reflect the requirements of the 'New Era'. Outside of a university you could be hard pushed to get a satisfactory definition of what culture is from anyone who claims they will 'teach you Chinese culture'. You could end up listening to a series of anecdotes based on habits; good, bad, perceived and possibly made up on the spot. Enjoyable but possibly not what you're really after. If you could find someone to deliver an objective course in an interesting way, it would be great, because that someone would have a lot to be proud about. I could not have explained British culture satisfactorily until I got out of it for while. It's a case of not seeing the wood for the trees. Like you, I wanted to really understand what it is people are doing and why they're doing it when it is not always obvious to me as an outsider. I found the answer in the guise of a mass online course provided by HarvardX. The link is below. It's free to access but you do have to register. It's not a big deal to do this. All the materials: texts, tutorials, videos are free. Assessments too if you want to do them. It's fascinating and enjoyable. The title of the course is 'China Humanities: The Individual in Chinese Culture'. The link: China Humanities:
For about 2 years a Sinology class has advertised weekly meetings on GoKM. Very few, not to say basically nobody from this website attended. Although the participation on the forum is great, the cultural level of locals is not very high. Such class is not running anymore.
Thanks for the link nnoble. I'll check it out. I'm mostly asking for Chinese culture/history course I thought that would be the most easily available option. Plus I studied history in uni and miss it...the online course might help fill that void.
Ricsnap..I'm sad to hear there used to be something like that in Kunming but not anymore...It sounds like the kind of thing I might be looking for...
I would be inclined to look online for sinology courses from recognised universities, possibly not based in China. Try here for online courses, most free www.coursera.org/courses?languages=en&query=china+culture
Be careful of some local 'experts', they hired one (who was recommended) at our school. The man had a strong political leaning and a very strange view of the outside world. The students had to be corrected on several parts of world history.
Although I have not read any of his books, Jim Goodman (who has articles published on here) has produced a lot of work on ethnic cultures in SW China and neighbouring countries.
While living in Beijing prior to 2008, I was hooked up with a small group of Chinese who sought to preserve images of Chinese culture that had survived the cultural chaos of the 1960s before the city was renovated for the Olympics. So much had been lost and much of what still existed was disappearing.
We documented, with before and after photos, how the physical culture of China was changing.
Unfortunately, as politics and ideology changes in China, so does the cultural record.
One of my contemporary hutong dwellers wrote this:
Agree with nnoble's comment.
You can get culture from blogs, movies, documentaries. Search online for a documentary about Peking Opera.
Sixth Tone is another good blog with interesting cultural content about China.
Thanks everyone. I was kind of hoping to attend some classes in person, since I also want to do it for the social aspect, but your links and comments are really helpful, I'll check them out!
many believe that while Chinese civilization may indeed be 5000 years old (or older), much of Chinese 'culture' as it appears today is little over 60 years old. Some might say that culture and tradition were re-invented at around that tim along with muc of the history. Taiwan and Hong Kong might be good places to experience an learn about a more authentic
Culture is always in a process of change, it's just that some changes occur more quickly or more abruptly than others and so are more 'visible', and some periods, for various historical reasons, involve more rapid change than do others. Hard to say when cultural change occurs in isolation from the influence of other cultures, but it's virtually never, and it's all a matter of degree. How does one delimit authentic from inauthentic changes? Are cinemas inauthentically Chinese? How about the development of Beijing under the Yuan (Mongol) Dynasty?