Hippies, as well as Harbin, can be very resistant to culturally homogenizing and normalizing processes, such as clothing, tastes, modes of thinking. Native Americans have been resistant for related reasons.
While taking a brief trip away from Harbin and visiting the Yakama Nation in Yakima, Washington, in March 2008, I was struck by how little resistance I saw there in the interactions with the enrolled tribal members who were running its cultural center. From a history of people being deceived at treaty signings, with some characterization of this in the Yakama Nation museum, the Yakama are now engaging Western cultural and corporate processes to look to the future for the 10,000 Yakima residents there. They have a museum, gift shop, theater, lodge, restaurant and library, in their cultural center, and they also have a number of businesses that are part of their reservation as corporation.
Harbin is a business, but Harbin is concurrently also creating a kind of unique cultural haven that is alternative, attracting a significant number of hippie-minded people, as both residents and visitors. In this ethnography I’d like to observe and participate in what has emerged and what will emerge here at Harbin. And I’ll contextualize my interpretation of Harbin as an expression of counterculture that includes resistance that emerged in the 1960s and 1970s