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3 Introduction T his book is concerned with the mechanisms by which the mainland Chinese state, the People’s Republic of China (PRC), asserts cultural authority over an increasingly mobile population, and the ways individuals cope with that authority in the face of conflicting pressures regarding their movement. In his influential article “Mobile Sociology,” John Urry, drawing on Zygmunt Bauman’s (1987) metaphor, suggests that we might be witnessing a return from the “gardening state,” which “presumes exceptional concern with pattern, regularity and ordering, with what is growing and with what should be weeded out,” to the “gamekeeper state,” which is concerned with “ensuring that there was sufficient stock for hunting in a particular site but not with the detailed cultivation of each animal.” He notes that East European societies under state socialism were “gardening ” societies (Urry 2000:186). Put less benevolently, state socialism, despite important exceptions such as Tito’s Yugoslavia, was associated with strict controls on population movement. Yet, since 1978 when the PRC embarked on the modernization drive that has become the supreme state ideology and social mantra, Chinese citizens have been challenged to travel. As Liu (1997) pointed out, a spatial hierarchy arose, in which “success” as a modern Chinese subject was linked to mobility. At the pinnacle of that hierarchy was international migration to the United States, the country that symbolized global modernity. Entrepreneurs, students, and workers who went abroad legally or illegally all assumed their places in the hierarchy. But a far larger number of them have moved within China, where a similar hierarchy arose. While migration is almost the only form of human movement that attracts the attention of sociologists and political scientists concerned with the directions societies take, other forms of spatial mobility are privileged in the humanities in discourses of modern subjectivity. Tourism and travel in particular are persistent (and different) metaphors of (post) modernity (see MacCannell 1976 and Clifford 1992 for two influential and very different treatments of the subject), albeit exclusively of its Western form(s). In China, until the late nineties, the positive value of mobility lay in its strong association with capital accumulation. Since then, however, a culture of (mainly domestic) leisure travel, once reviled but now promoted by the state, has rapidly emerged as an attribute of modern urban lifestyle. As people begin to move, they slip from the grip of Maoist systems of administrative control that are based on work units and household registration . In 1997, Laura Nader wrote that “when the use of social control becomes less culturally acceptable, especially for the middle class, the use of cultural control becomes more central for the mechanics of power.” She had Western liberal democracies in mind, but her observation is pertinent to today’s China. The party-state is eager to create capitalism, consumption, and a middle class without relinquishing control; in other words, it tries to become a “gamekeeper state” without ceasing to be a “gardening state.” It is making great efforts to maintain cultural control over the processes through which the invention of the modern Chinese subject take place: for example, education, the media, advertising, the arts, and public spaces.1 Every visitor to China witnesses one visible effort at cultural control: the innumerable slogans and posters exhorting citizens to study Jiang Zemin’s “Threerepresents Importantthought”2 or Hu Introduction 5 Jintao’s “Eight Honourables and Eight Shamefuls,” not to spit, and to be filial and patriotic. Instead of disappearing along with the Marxist ideology , these slogans have multiplied, adapted to the times, and been harnessed by a variety of government bodies as well as private advertisers. When Lee Kum Kee Oyster Sauce, popular from San Francisco to Penang but hardly known in Peking, puts up advertising billboards on Hong Kong’s Chater Road with the caption “Love the Fatherland, love Hong Kong,” and Bosideng Down Wear advertises itself on airplane seats as “World Brand, Pride of the Nation,” it becomes clear that public displays of official language, far from being ignored relics, as they were in the last decades of the Soviet Union, are influencing everyday life in new ways. Much of my previous work has been concerned with the construction and contestations of the image of the “new migrant” in Chinese public discourse, the media (Nyíri 2005ab), and new Chinese organizations overseas (Nyíri 1999, 2001, 2002b), as well as its effects on transnational migratory, economic (Nyíri 1999; Pieke et al. 2004), and religious networks (Nyíri 2003), gender strategies...


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