The Path to Sun Village

Gods, Ghosts, and People in a Post-Revolutionary Society

Author: Chongqing Wu
This book is a product of over ten years of work. It addresses intermarriage circles, transformations of customs, the rise and fall supernatural forces, power relations among gods, ghosts and people in “synchronic communities,” and tongxiangtongye (same hometown, same industry) economies based on rural sociocultural networks in the author’s native Sun Village in Putian. The author explores the details of microhistory by examining changes and continuities in everyday life to show the grand through the minute.
This exciting book possesses important theoretical significance, including reflections on binary frameworks such as state vs. society and tradition vs. modernity or revolution, along with new arguments about commonly used concepts such as “the cultural nexus of power” and “the hollowing-out of the rural.”

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Wu Chongqing, Ph.D. (1991), Sun Yat-sen University, is Professor in the Department of Philosophy at that university, Director of South China Rural Research Centre, and Editor-in-Chief of Open Times. He has edited Mapping China: Peasants, Migrant Workers and Informal Labor (Brill, 2016).
Preface: A Village Path alongside China’s Highway of Development
List of Illustrations

1 Intermarriage Spheres and Affinal Networks
Part 1: Intermarriage Spheres: Social Change and the Expansion and Contraction of Intermarriage Regions
   The Rural Social Space of Sun Village
   The Situation of Intermarriage and Its Revision of “Common Sense”
   Why the Distance of Intermarriage is Shrinking
Part 2: Affinal Networks: Continuity and Transformation in the Conventions of Marriage and Affinal Relations
   Old Conventions in the Mao Era: Protecting Traditional Core Values of Marriage and the Family
   “Walking Rites”: The Goodness of Uniting Two Surnames
   Changing Conventions in the “Era of Black Marriages” and Thereafter
   Conclusion: From “Many Branches” to “Deep Roots”

2 The Realms of Yin and Yang
Part 1: Synchronic Communities: Gods, Ghosts, and People in a Post-revolutionary Era
   From the Imperial to the Post-revolutionary Era
   “We are Both Wretched Vagabonds in a Strange Land”
   “Fallen to the Earth and Crushed to Dust, Only the Fragrance Remains”
   When the Boundary between Yin and Yang is Breached: The Persistence of Affective Bonds between Ghosts and the Living
   Synchronic Communities
 Appendix to Part 1 of Chapter 2
part 2: Efficacy Depending on Faith: The Scope and Cycles of Tongji Power
   The Vast Distance between Heaven and the Living
   “My Identity as a Woman”
   Preference for Secular over Supernatural Decision-Making
   The Authority of Each Medium Lasts Two or Three Years
Part 3: Pretending that Gods Exist: Relations between People and Gods in Collective Rituals
   Block Divination
   Yuanxiao at Yongjin Temple
   Welcoming the Gods
   “Going Out to Run around the Territory”
   “Running Across the Arena” and “Calming Down to Dismount”
   “Selecting the Next Year’s Ritual Heads”
   Distributing “Boy Biscuits”
   The Utilitarianization of Supernatural Relations in Collective Rituals
Part 4: A Thin Interface: The “Balanced Rationality” among Gods, People, and Horses
   Keeping Pace to Entertain Gods: From “Using Horses for Work” to “Using Horses for Ritual”
   The Tracks of a Thousand Troops and Ten Thousand Horses: “Horse Agents” and “Horse-Leaders”
   In the Spring, Hooves Gallop Gaily: Horse-Leaders, Horse Markets, and Clients during Yuanxiao
   Those on Horseback Cannot See the Situation on the Ground: Horse-Leaders, Horses, and Gods
   Society and Culture as Matrix

3 Building Roads: “The Cultural Nexus of Power”
 Accounting and the State
 The Weakening of Popular Authority before 1949
 Political Consolidation and the Resurgence of Religious Authority (1949–1985)
 The Interaction between Popular Authorities and State Brokers (1986 to the Present)

4 “Beyond the Boundary”: A Countermovement to the Hollowing-out of Rural China
 Social Networks in a Peripheral Region
 From Periphery to Center: The On-site Concentration of Dajin Resources
 Gaining the Upper Hand through Hometown-Based Economic Networks
 The Mutual Activation of Rural Social Resources and Tongxiang Tongye Economy
 A Countermovement against the “Hollowing-Out” of Rural China

Appendix: A Micro-History of Rural Society: Sun Village before and during the Revolutionary Period
 i Livelihood
 ii Epidemics
 iii Clans
 iv Water Resource Management
 v “People’s Schools”
 vi “Able-Bodied Men”
 vii “Personages”
 viii Modern Schools
 ix Bandits
 x Land Reform
 xi “Fording the Famine”
 xii The “Socialist Education” Campaign
 xiii The Cultural Revolution


Sociologists and anthropologists, and all others interested in folk religions and concerned with contemporary Chinese society and culture.