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China's New Socialist Countryside

Modernity Arrives in the Nu River Valley

by Russell Harwood

Publication Year: 2013

Based on ethnographic fieldwork, this case study examines the impact of economic development on ethnic minority people living along the upper-middle reaches of the Nu (Salween) River in Yunnan. In this highly mountainous, sparsely populated area live the Lisu, Nu, and Dulong (Drung) people, who until recently lived as subsistence farmers, relying on shifting cultivation, hunting, the collection of medicinal plants from surrounding forests, and small-scale logging to sustain their household economies. China's New Socialist Countryside explores how compulsory education, conservation programs, migration for work, and the expansion of social and economic infrastructure are not only transforming livelihoods, but also intensifying the Chinese Party-state’s capacity to integrate ethnic minorities into its political fabric and the national industrial economy.

Published by: University of Washington Press


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pp. vii-9

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pp. ix-xi

Nujiang Prefecture is one of the most remote, most sparsely populated, and least-known parts of China. Until very recently, people of the Lisu, Nu, Drung (Dulong), Tibetan, and other small ethnic groups have lived subsistence livelihoods in its deep valleys between precipitous mountain...

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pp. xiii-xvi

I would first like to thank my family for their enormous support and inspiration. I am particularly grateful to my mother, Susan Harwood, for encouraging me to pursue an advanced academic degree and for her sage words of advice, guidance, and feedback. I would like to thank my...

Equivalents and Abbreviations

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pp. xvii-xviii

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pp. 3-39

Before 1999, to travel from Gongshan County’s poorest and most isolated township of Dulongjiang to the Gongshan county town required an arduous three-day trek along a narrow mountain trail. Today one can travel between these two places by vehicle, following the completion of a ninety-six...

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1. Life at the Periphery of the Chinese Party-State: An Introduction

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pp. 41-70

Francis Kingdon Ward’s account of the extreme conditions that he encountered during a 1922 expedition across the northern reaches of the area that is today known as Gongshan County provides a fitting introduction to one of China’s most isolated and inaccessible regions. Ward...

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2. Nature Reserves and Reforestation: The Impacts of Conservation Programs upon Livelihoods

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pp. 71-109

The CCP’s legitimacy hinges upon its capacity to deliver sustained economic growth, social stability, and better livelihoods for the people of China. The continuing deterioration of China’s natural environment is a serious challenge to these aspirations. Indeed, it is estimated that the economic...

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3. All Is Not as It Appears: Education Reform

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pp. 110-158

Until recently, school completion rates among Gongshan’s ethnic minority population were very low. The high costs of participating in formal education, combined with a perception that it offers limited utility, caused many ethnic minority students to drop out of school and return to the family...

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4. Migration from the Margins: Increasing Outward Migration for Work

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pp. 159-183

The treacherous road that connects the Gongshan county town with Dulongjiang, Gongshan’s poorest and most isolated township, was completed only in 1999 and at significant cost: approximately ¥120 million. Prior to the road’s construction, Dulongjiang was very difficult to access...

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pp. 185-190

Prior to 2007, many of Menke’s primary school– aged children were missing out on a full education. This was not because their parents did not want their children to attend school; as the quote above suggests, many of Menke’s parents in fact placed great value upon education. The...


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pp. 191-200

Glossary of Chinese Terms

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pp. 201-206


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pp. 207-222


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pp. 223-230

E-ISBN-13: 9780295804781
E-ISBN-10: 0295804785
Print-ISBN-13: 9780295993386
Print-ISBN-10: 0295993383

Page Count: 248
Publication Year: 2013

OCLC Number: 861322633
MUSE Marc Record: Download for China's New Socialist Countryside

Research Areas


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Subject Headings

  • Nujiang Lisuzu Zizhizhou (China) -- Social conditions.
  • Rural population -- China -- Nujiang Lisuzu Zizhizhou.
  • Rural development -- China -- Nujiang Lisuzu Zizhizhou.
  • Nujiang Lisuzu Zizhizhou (China) -- Economic conditions.
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