Twentieth century China has seen local societies undergo unprecedented transformations accompanied by a remarkable continuity in state practice. In this path-breaking study of two ethnically different communities, the matrilineal Mosuo and the patrilineal Han, in northwest Yunnan province, the author traces cultural change from a historical perspective in relation to the ecological environment and political systems. The treatment of state penetration into local society challenges the conventional binary narratives of state-society and Han/non-Han relations. With its interdisciplinary approach, the book enriches the anthropology of China by framing ethnicity issues in terms of local politics and inter-relationships between levels of government, and at the same time extends the analytical perimeter of the study of the Chinese state to the national periphery.
Xiaolin Guo, Ph.D. (1997) in Anthropology, University of British Columbia, is Senior Research Fellow at the Institute for Security and Development Policy, Stockholm. She researches and publishes on such topics as China's rural economic reforms, ethnic minorities, and central-local relations.
Its audience includes Sinologists, anthropologists of the state, and historicans of China's frontier, as well as an educated public interested in state-society relations, ethnic minorities, development policy and cultural change.