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Wenzhi Huang

During the Cultural Revolution, Mao’s portrait and quotations were everywhere in China. This modern form of cult was manifested in two ways: the cult of the Leader’s personality through the use of his likenesses and quotes by government authorities and the populace, and the defilement of the objects emblematic of the Leader by certain individuals. Based on an analysis of newly discovered archives on a number of cases involving defaced portraits, photos, and quotations of the Leader, this article reveals the micro-level mechanisms of political events, by which the “enemies” were identified and treated, and further tackles some theoretical issues concerning defacement, stigmatization and de-stigmatization, and the allegation of counter-revolutionary crimes in political campaigns.

Ye Li

The introduction of Christianity to the areas populated by people of Jingpo ethnicity was known locally as “replacing ghosts with God.” As a compromise with the cultural traditions of the Jingpo people, the localization of Christianity worked to mitigate the tensions between the innate identity of the Jingpo aboriginals and the new identity of the converts. Nevertheless, the process also entailed an inevitable impact of the authority of God upon the validity of various native forms of ghosts that had been part and parcel of the Jingpo people’s spiritual life, which in turn facilitated the formation of the converts’ new identity as Christians, as seen in their participation in the New Crop Festival in the region of Jingpo ethnicity.

Philip C. C. Huang

The “third sphere” born of the interacting of a market economy with a centralized state, and of a system of market contracting 合同 with administrative “assigning responsibility” 发包/承包, has become a key characteristic of the new political-economic system of Reform China. It has imported the private enterprise market economy of the modern West, but has also retained the (revolutionary) tradition of a socialist party-state and its ownership of the principal means of production. Its administrative system resembles more and more the modern West’s (Weberian) bureaucratic system, but it has also retained the traditional imperial Chinese “centralized minimalism” and “parcelized despotism” characteristics. It cannot be grasped by the either/or dualistic opposites mode of thinking, but can only be understood in terms of the combining and interacting of dualistic opposites. The combination may be understood as one concrete and substantive meaning of the officialized term of a “socialist market economy.”

Haixia Wang, Zhouyang Zhao and Luyi Yuan

Since 2015, the appointment of a special “first secretary” (for the village party branch 村党支部) has become an important method for reinforcing rural party building and attacking rural poverty. On the obvious level, the first secretary can enhance access to redirected resources and solve the problems of insufficiency and uneven distribution in rural areas. On a deeper level, the first secretary institution can play a role in overcoming problems in bureaucratic governance and optimizing the rural governance structure. Based on an analysis of the actual practices of first secretaries, this article highlights the operational mode, institutional characteristics, and governance effectiveness of the first secretary institution. It points out that the most prominent characteristics of the first secretary institution are non-bureaucratic governance, flexibility, and resource reallocation, thus reflecting the duality of comprehensive party leadership and bureaucratic governance by the government. However, there are still some institutional paradoxes: the first secretary institution retains some characteristics of campaign-style governance, at least to a certain extent, and its social embeddedness is dependent on individual access to resources and particular operational strategies, resulting in practical effects that vary across regions and individuals. Nevertheless, the first secretary institution still has a governance ability and effectiveness that are different from conventional governance and conform to the goal of both establishing links between internal and external resources in rural reconstruction and satisfying the mass line requirement of the party’s rural work in the new era. It will be worthwhile to further study the implications of the first secretary institution for governance in general.

Philip C. C. Huang

This article first explains why our “Best Young Scholar’s Monograph Prize in the Social Sciences of Practice” selection committee has chosen the three books International Law and Late Qing China: Texts, Events, and Politics, Rural Development in Contemporary China: Micro Case Examples and Macro Changes, and Urbanizing Children: Identity Production and Political Socialization of Peasant-Worker Sons and Daughters for the award, and then goes on to discuss how monograph production is faced with deeply contradictory forces in the scholarly environment of China today when compared with the American scholarly environment, to explain the purpose of the prize.

Zhanshuo Li

Mutual aid was a mechanism that emerged under the condition of insufficient factors of production in traditional Chinese society; it aimed to improve the productivity of factors by applying the principle of “deduct from the more-than-sufficient and add to the insufficient.” Mutual aid worked to improve the productivity of factors chiefly because it could lead to high efficiency through the full and economical utilization of factors of production that were given and limited. Unlike the input of modern capital that could result in immediate gain in productivity, mutual aid only led to indirect and passive improvements in productivity. Increased social interaction through mutual aid could further boost laborers’ morale and willingness to compete with one another, thus adding to improved productivity. Finally, mutual aid reduced the time spent on and the consumption of factors of production, thus permitting more farmers to engage in wasteland reclamation, sharpening of farming skills, and construction of water-control projects, which also contributed to agricultural growth.

Weigang Gong and Burak Gürel

This article analyzes the role of the state in the development of capitalist agriculture in contemporary China by focusing on the implementation of the central-government-sponsored National Grain Security Project and Agricultural Industrialization Project in Pingwan county of Hunan province since 2009. It demonstrates that by providing significant (formal and informal) subsidies and transferring large tracts of farmland to large farmers and agribusinesses, the Chinese government has made the capitalist transformation of rice production possible. We stress that in the absence of private property rights, the local governments’ strong control over farmland transactions makes it relatively easy to transfer large tracts quickly, helping agribusinesses and large farmers avoid significant transaction costs they would otherwise have to face under a system of private landownership. The article also shows that existing policies support the transfer of farmland in regions with favorable geographic and climatic conditions over other regions and therefore lack the capacity to significantly decrease regional inequalities.

Tian Tian

“Clothing strips” refers to those sections of tomb inventories written on bamboo and wooden slips from the early and middle Western Han that record clothing items. The distinctive characteristics of the writing, check markings, and placement in the tomb of these clothing strips reflect funerary burial conventions of that period. “Clothing lists” from the latter part of the Western Han period are directly related to these clothing strips. Differences in format between these two types of documents are the result of changes in funerary ritual during the Western Han period.

Cheng Shaoxuan and Liu Gang

This paper introduces several newly unearthed wooden figures from tombs in Yangzhou that date to the Five Dynasties period, and provides complete transcriptions and preliminary studies of the inscriptions on them. By comparing these figures to similar materials discovered elsewhere, this paper argues that the function of putting these kinds of wooden figurines in tombs was to avoid misfortune. The last portion of the paper briefly examines the origin of this custom and beliefs behind it.