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Causes, Dynamics, and Consequences
China has become a land of protests, though the Chinese state possesses considerable administrative capacity. In this volume, Manfred Elfstrom and Yao Li provide an overview of Chinese contentious politics. They dig deep into major forms of social conflict, explore structural explanations for why protest occurs in China, and describe the ways in which various organizations and framings of issues by citizens affect how protests play out. Shifting to where grassroots activism ultimately leads, Elfstrom and Li survey China’s coercive and conciliatory institutions for maintaining social control, document and explain patterns in the state’s handling of different types of resistance, and examine the social and political impact of unrest. This work not only contributes to a deeper understanding of contentious politics and governance in China, but also provides insights for studies of social movements and authoritarian politics in general.

Abstract

China has become a land of social protests. Yet the Chinese state possesses considerable capacity and is rising on the world stage day by day. Why and how do Chinese people take to the streets? Where does their activism lead? This paper draws on a rich body of existing literature to provide an overview of the broad landscape of Chinese contentious politics and to dig deeper into a few common or emerging forms of social conflict. It then explores the various structural and political opportunity-based explanations for why protest occurs in China, before describing the ways in which different organizations and different framings of issues by citizens affect how protests play out. Shifting to where protests lead, the paper briefly surveys a variety of coercive and conciliatory institutions China possesses for social control and then documents distinct patterns in the state’s handling of different types of resistance—repressive, tolerant, concessionary, and mixed approaches—followed by an examination of the multifaceted impact of unrest. The conclusion offers suggestions for future researchers. Reviewing major concepts, debates, perspectives, and emerging research directions in studies of contentious politics in the world’s most populous country, this paper contributes to a more nuanced understanding of authoritarian politics and authoritarian resilience more generally.

In: Contentious Politics in China
For Mongols, sharing food is more than just eating meals. Through a process of “opening” and “closing”, on a daily basis or at events, in the family circle or with visitors, sharing food guarantees the proper order of social relations. It also ensures the course of the seasons and the cycle of human life. Through food sharing, humans thus invite happiness to their families and herds. Sandrine Ruhlmann has lived long months, since 2000, in the Mongolian steppe and in the city. She describes and analyzes in detail the contemporary food system and recognizes intertwined ideas and values inherited from shamanism, Buddhism and communist ideology. Through meat-on-the-bone, creamy milk skin, dumplings or sole-shaped cakes, she highlights a whole way of thinking and living.
Scriptural Shamanism in Southwestern China
In Masters of Psalmody (bimo ) Aurélie Névot analyses the religious, political and theoretical issues of a scriptural shamanism observed in southwestern China among the Yi-Sani. Her focus is on blood sacrifices and chants based on a secret and labile writing handled only by ritualists called bimo.

Through ethnographic data, the author presents the still little known bimo metaphysics and unravels the complexity of the local text-based ritual system in which the continuity of each bimo lineage relies on the transmission of manuscripts whose writing relates to lineage blood. While illuminating the usages of this shamanistic tradition that is characterized by scriptural variability between patrilineages, Aurélie Névot highlights the radical changes it is undergoing by becoming a Chinese state tradition.
Editor: William Hurst
This collection includes seven essays translated from the leading Chinese-language journal Open Times. Bringing together a wide range of leading experts across several disciplines, this book offers critical insights on some of the most important questions of contemporary urban Chinese politics and society. Drawing on extensive research across different localities and issues in China, the chapters offer rich data and fresh analyses of the shifting contours of urban governance, social mobilization and contention, and mechanisms of social control in the new Millennium. Taken together, this collection represents the most comprehensive look in some years at how urban Chinese political institutions have adapted and responded to challenges and how social actors and groups have mobilized to press for redress of substantial new grievances.
A Comparison of Cultures
In China: Promise or Threat? Helle compares the cultures of China and the West through both private and public spheres. For China, the private sphere of family life is well developed while behaviour in public relating to matters of government and the law is less reliable. In contrast, the West operates in reverse. The book’s twelve chapters investigate the causes and effects of threats to the environment, military confrontations, religious differences, fundamentals of cultural history, and the countries’ orientations for finding solutions to societal problems, all informed by the Confucian impulse to recapture the lost splendour of a past versus faith in progress toward a blessed future. The West has promoted individualism while China is locked in its kinship society.
Situating Scriptural Practices
The Materiality and Efficacy of Balinese Letters examines traditional uses of writing on the Indonesian island of Bali, focusing on the power attributed to Balinese script.The approach is interdisciplinary and comparative, bringing together insights from anthropological and philological perspectives. Scholars have long recognized a gap between the practices of philological interpretation and those of the Javano-Balinese textual tradition. The question is what impact this gap should have on our conception of ‘the text’. Of what relevance, for example, are the uses to which Balinese script has been put in the context of ceremonial rites? What ideas of materiality, power and agency are at work in the production and preservation of palm-leaf manuscripts, inscribed amulets and other script-bearing instruments?
Contributors include: Andrea Acri, Helen Creese, Richard Fox, H.I.R. Hinzler, Annette Hornbacher, Thomas M. Hunter and Margaret Wiener.
Clinics between Professionalization and Empowerment
In Naturopathy in South India – Clinics between Professionalization and Empowerment, Eva Jansen offers a rich ethnographic account of current naturopathic thinking and practices, and examines its complex history, multiple interpretations, and antagonisms. This book presents two major forms of Naturopathy in contemporary South India: On one side, a scientific, professional branch models themselves after allopathic practitioners. On the other side, a group of ideologists uses an approach to patient treatment that is grounded in the principles of simplicity, transparency, a critique of globalization, and a focus on patient empowerment. Jansen discusses the current political and medical clash between Naturopaths in South India from the perspectives of practitioners, employees, the media and patients.
In: Naturopathy in South India