I am looking for information on ethnic minority organisations, social groups or student groups in/around Kunming. It has been several years since I have been in the area and I am looking to return to carry out a bit of research on minority self-identification. I am not currently in China, but I am hoping to find some contacts I can speak with before I arrive or groups I can seek out once I get back to hit the ground running.
I know everyone on here is so helpful, I really appreciate all the insights you guys have
From the little that I have seen, most minority people identify with their village/valley more than the minority itself.
There are also a couple of anthropologists that post on here occasionally. One is Dr Brendan Galipeau, articles here www.gokunming.com/en/blog/poster/80/.
Another well traveled anthropologist is Jim Goodman, who would make a very good gatekeeper, if he is willing to help. He has been a prolific writer for many years www.gokunming.com/en/blog/poster/66/
I would try contacting these guys first if you can. They will be able to tell you of the advantages and pitfalls of going (or not going) through official channels to reach people.
If I recall correctly, Kunming has a minorities university, which to my understanding caters to students who are entitled to some sort of government support based on their background.
Though I suspect that in this kind of environment the self-identification to the ethnic roots may be heightened.
But if you look at groups of people, rather than individuals belonging to ethnic minorities in overall population, that would be the case anyway.
Kunming Minorities University:
If you haven't read it already, get a copy of Thomas Mullaney's Coming to Terms with the Nation - a fascinating study of how the present classification of Yunnan's national minorities came about. It has a foreword by Benedict Anderson, author of Imagined Communities, who, incidentally, was born in Kunming. As I'm sure you know there's already a vast literature on Yunnan's minorities in Chinese and other languages. As others have said Yunnan Nationalities University is probably the best starting point for your research.