This collection includes seven articles from the journal Open Times, a window into contemporary Chinese academic trends. All the articles deal with the topic of “peasants, migrant workers and informal labor,” but each has a different emphasis.
It illustrates various ways that people from a countryside make use of local social resources to seek out ways to making a living. In these models, we can still see traditional social networks, various degrees of ties based on kinship and locality, and the existence of humans as social groups. It also analyzes Dagongmei’s collective actions to fight against the capital and patriarchy, workers’ collective resistance at OEM factories, and the impacts of labor migration on rural poverty and inequality.
Since its founding, the government of the People's Republic of China has strived to transform rural production, the theme of this volume of History of Contemporary China. Fourteen articles translated from the Chinese journal Contemporary History (Dangdai Zhongguo shi yanjiu) offer both empirical account and theoretical analysis of a broad range of historical events and issues, such as the guiding policy framework of the “three rural issues,” the causes and consequences of the deep plowing movement and the development of public canteens during the Great Leap Forward, child care, enterprises and collectives, and private lending in the post-Mao era, and the changing dynamics of interregional flows of goods and people throughout the second half of the 20th century. These studies shed light on the historical origins of some of the agricultural and rural problems in China today.
Mandarins and Heretics, Wu Junqing explores the denunciation and persecution of lay religious groups in late imperial (14th to 20th century) China. These groups varied greatly in their organisation and teaching, yet in official state records they are routinely portrayed as belonging to the same esoteric tradition, stigmatised under generic labels such as “White Lotus” and “evil teaching”, and accused of black magic, sedition and messianic agitation.
Wu Junqing convincingly demonstrates that this “heresy construct” was not a reflection of historical reality but a product of the Chinese historiographical tradition, with its uncritical reliance on official sources. The imperial heresy construct remains influential in modern China, where it contributes to shaping policy towards unlicensed religious groups.
Singing on the River by Igor Chabrowski, based on Sichuan boatmen’s work songs (
haozi), explores the little known world of mentality and self-representation of Chinese workers from the late 19th century until the outbreak of the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937). Chabrowski demonstrates how river workers constructed and interpreted their world, work, and gender in context of the dissolving social, cultural, and political orders. Boatmen asserted their own values, bemoaned exploitation, and imagined their sexuality largely in order to cope with their low social status. Through studying the Sichuan boatmen we gain an insight into the ways in which twentieth-century nonindustrial Chinese workers imagined their place in the society and appropriated, without challenging them, the traditional values.
Borrowed Place: Mission Stations and Local Adaption in Early Twentieth-Century Hunan Riika-Leena Juntunen creates a microhistorical narrative around the establishment, reception, and development of Lizhou protestant stations during the turbulent years of popular nationalism and early communist activity. The book examines the changing place identity around the stations from political, religious, ritual, cultural, and gendered perspectives, revealing a Chinese semi-religious community with varying motivations and in constant dialogue with its surroundings. The group developed its own normative code and hierarchy, and it offered both economic and religious benefits according to local models. Yet the developing political situation also meant it had to solve the question of anti-foreignism to be able to continue its existence.
The nine empirical studies in
New Narratives of Urban Space in Republican Chinese Cities, organized under the general framework of urban space, examine three critical dimensions of the great urban transformation in Republican China—social, legal and governance orders. Together these narratives suggest a new perception of this historical urbanism.
While modern economic development was a major drive for Chinese urban transformation, this volume highlights the dimension of the multilayered forces that shape urban space by looking into that less quantifiable, but equally important cultural realm and by exposing the ways in which these forces created new urban narratives, which became themselves shapers of urban space and of our perception of the Republican urbanity.