Cover

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Title Page, Copyright

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pp. i-iv

Contents

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pp. v-vi

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Acknowledgments

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p. vii

The idea of putting together a volume of my papers came from several close colleagues, David Faure, May Bo Ching, Liu Zhiwei, and Kwok-leung Yu. To make that happen has taken years. When the world pushes impatiently forward, looking back to reflect is a luxury. The essays in this volume are reworked and grouped under...

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Introduction: China as Progress

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pp. viii-xvi

This volume of essays captures my forty years of explorations in the field. It is a personal and an intellectual journey. South China has existed as an ever changing empirical experience, a kaleidoscope of events, institutions, lives, meanings and power play. Every major political turn has reconfigured it. Theoretical paradigms that...

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Part 1: Tracing Meaningful Life-Worlds

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pp. 17-24

In 2009, I was asked by two close colleagues, David Faure and Liu Zhiwei, to clarify our research agenda on South China. It became “Refl ections on Historical Anthropology,” published in Chinese by the Journal of History and Anthropology (2009a). I use a slightly revised version here. Tracing our intellectual roots from the classic traditions...

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1. Reflections on Historical Anthropology

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pp. 25-45

This essay targets a Chinese scholarly audience, who deserves a coherent presentation of the analytical themes that my South China colleagues and I have been concerned with. One cannot ignore history when one studies the unifying and diversifying cultural processes in an entity one terms “China.” Years of field research in South...

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2. Cultural Identity and the Politics of Difference in South China

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pp. 46-64

The term “China” presents many faces and meanings. The wealth of differentiating experiences beneath the surface of an enduring, naturalizing uniformity encompassed by the term has intrigued scholars, prompting them to call for analytical tools that illuminate the paradox at various historical junctures.1 A basic assumption is...

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Part 2: Moving Targets

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pp. 65-66

The two essays in this section were written almost two decades apart. Published in 1989, the first essay puts in context my experience of rural China at the end of the Maoist era. At the time of fieldwork in 1977, I expected to find positive developments in thirty years of rural revolution. Instead, I saw what remained of traditional villages...

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3. Images: Prologue to Agents and Victims in South China

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pp. 67-74

It was an unusually wet spring in April 1977. I was among ten university teachers from Hong Kong invited by the Chinese authorities to survey various rural communes in the Pearl River Delta of Guangdong province. On the last leg of our journey we reached Huicheng, the county capital of Xinhui, known for its scenic beauty...

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4. China’s Century

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pp. 75-82

China is hot. Th e global media has named this century “The China Century.” The sustained double-digit growth, the massive infrastructural developments, the ever-expanding cities that “swallow” entire villages, the rural-to-urban migration of laborers in tens of millions, and the worldwide consumption of China’s products all...

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Part 3: Structuring and Human Agency

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pp. 83-88

When I wrote my first ethnography, I was just beginning to explore the two concepts— structuring and human agency. Agents and Victims in South China (1989a) focuses on how the Maoist rural revolution transformed a highly commercialized Pearl River delta. I have argued against a static and a historical view of peasant life...

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5. Socialist Peddlers and Princes in a Chinese Market Town

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pp. 89-110

In the mid-1980s, an interdisciplinary group of scholars published a collection of papers centering on the conceptual need “to bring the state back in” in social and cultural analysis (Evans, Rueschemeyer, and Skocpol 1985). Instead of assuming the separation of the public and private spheres, of state and society, of the formal and informal...

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6. Recycling Rituals

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pp. 111-126

Scholars who observed the lack of color in rural social life in the Maoist era have also witnessed and marveled at the liberalizing energies released by the recent decade of reforms. Unprecedented movements of goods, capital, and people across the rural landscape have been accompanied by a flourishing of popular rituals. The phenomenon...

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7. Reconstituting Dowry and Brideprice in South China

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pp. 127-148

The decade of reforms in the 1980s brought drastic changes to Nanxi zhen (a pseudonym), a market town with a rural hinterland.1 Situated at the heart of the Pearl River Delta, connected by easy road and water transport to Guangzhou, Macau, and Hong Kong, it has enjoyed an unprecedented boom.2 Rows of new houses have...

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Part 4: Culturing Power

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pp. 149-152

My interest in the reinvention of tradition and state involution in the post-Mao era is related to deeper theoretical explorations into cultural construction, hard and soft forms of power, historically specific representations, and the human agency involved. The three articles in this section were written in a period of sixteen years, but the...

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8. Recycling Tradition

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pp. 153-178

In Xiaolan zhen, a market town in the heart of the Pearl River Delta of south China, the chrysanthemum has historically informed popular consciousness in crucial ways. It was believed that original settlers were attracted to the area by the yellow flower seven centuries ago.3 The local scholars used it in their writings, as had members of...

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9. Lineage, Market, Pirate, and Dan

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pp. 179-202

Chaolian xiang is a community on an island off the coast of the regional city of Jiangmen, on the western edge of the Pearl River Delta (see Map 1). Chaolian xiangzhi (Lu 1946) describes its settlement history in a familiar scenario: it was an isolated island in Xijiang (the Xi River). The early inhabitants were indigenous peoples...

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10. The Grounding of Cosmopolitans: Merchants and Local Cultures in South China

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pp. 203-232

In his study of Hankou merchants in the 18th century, William Rowe points to their institutional significance as an autonomous social force in dialogue with the late imperial state. Their physical presence matured well before the forces of modernization, which were associated with the coming of the West (1985). David Faure...

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Part 5: History between the Lines

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pp. 233-236

My academic interests have been diverse. Apart from a monograph based on ethnographic explorations, I have co-edited several volumes in literature, cultural and regional history, and contemporary political economy. I foresee more to come, focusing on trading empires in an interconnected Asia, and tracking China’s 21st-century...

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11. Where Were the Women?

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pp. 237-259

The ambiguity in language concerning the marital status of the young woman leads to the question of where she should have been at the time. One may argue that it was not uncommon for county local histories to list young women who, though unmarried, devoted themselves to the family of their betrothed. The above could be one...

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12. Social Responsibility and Self-Expression

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pp. 260-288

The literary scene in China during the 1980s was, at least until June 1988, lively, and puzzling. The official concern about “spiritual pollution” and “bourgeois liberalism” revealed a prevailing lack of faith among intellectuals (of which writers are a subset) in Marxism and in the party.1 Although party leaders have tolerated more...

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Part 6: Place-Making: Locality and Translocality

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pp. 289-292

In my study of local society in historical China, I have explored issues of place-based identities and the meaningful constructions of “place.” In Down to Earth: The Territorial Bond in South China (1995), David Faure and I deviate from Skinner’s economistic model by treating regional systems as conscious historical constructs...

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13. Subverting Lineage Power: Local Bosses and Territorial Control in the 1940s

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pp. 293-312

If territorial power in South China rested on lineages endowed with vast estates and the ability to fl aunt literati pretensions, how did the lineage institution change aft er the fall of the Qing dynasty?1 At the turn of the century, the He lineage in Shawan zhen of Panyu county, as described in Liu Zhiwei’s essay in Down to Earth (Faure and Siu...

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14. The Cultural Landscape of Luxury Housing in South China: A Regional History

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pp. 313-334

In less than two decades since the early 1980s, China’s pace of liberalization has accelerated beyond most expectations. The tens of millions of “floating population” highlight the breakdown of a system of household registration that has kept a rural population grounded since 1957.1 Market-based consumer revolution in China’s...

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15. Positioning “Hong Kongers” and “New Immigrants”

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pp. 335-368

The Hong Kong society has intimate links with mainland China through decades of people crossing the border. From the census records analyzed by Richard Wong and Ka-fu Wong, these movements have continued, in ebbs and flows, in the postwar decades. In 1996, almost 40 percent of Hong Kong’s population was born outside...

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16. Grounding Displacement

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pp. 369-398

Sun Zhigang, a twenty-seven-year-old from Hubei province, was an aspiring college graduate who had secured a job as a clothing designer in Guangzhou, the thriving commercial city in South China. One night in March 2003, on his way to a nearby Internet café on the main street of Huangcun (a community in the relatively new...

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Part 7: Historical Global and the Asian Postmodern

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pp. 399-402

The 21st century is characterized by an Asian renaissance marked by several major historical trends. In an edited volume to draw attention to a historically interconnected Asia, my colleagues and I show that “at various agentive moments, the likes of Marco Polo and Ibn Battuta (Dunn 1986/2005) had churned a cultural kaleidoscope...

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17. Hong Kong: Cultural Kaleidoscope on a World Landscape

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pp. 403-416

On June 1997, the world watched Hong Kong go through the ritual of reuniting with China. At midnight, June 30, the British crown and the Union Jack were lowered as the blue Hong Kong flag descended in one final playing of “God Save the Queen.” Replacing them were the bauhinia, and the star-studded red flag rising in the sounds...

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18. Women of Influence

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pp. 417-445

Although working women in Hong Kong have been given analytical attention, studies of professional women and political figures are not numerous.1 Serious biographies of female movers and shakers are rare compared to those written about male public figures.2 When the images of these women circulate in the local culture...

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19. Retuning a Provincialized Middle Class in Asia’s Urban Postmodern: The Case of Hong Kong

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pp. 446-470

Historically, Hong Kong had global self-perception and a regional material presence as a trading node. It claimed to have transformed from a fishing village and colonial outpost in the 19th century to a brand-named Asian city and financial hub in the 20th century. The age of mercantile capitalism allowed the city to share urban modeling...

Glossary

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pp. 471-476

Bibliography

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pp. 477-519

Index

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pp. 520-526