China's Peasants: The Anthropology of a Revolution / Edition 1

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The world's greatest revolution has left its mark on China, yet China remains fully and essentially Chinese. What is it to be a Chinese peasant under these circumstances? This study of Zengbu, a Cantonese community, is the first comprehensive analysis of a rural Chinese society by foreign anthropologists since the Revolution in 1949. From their data gathered using anthropological field methods, Jack and Sulamith Potter examine the revolutionary experiences of Zengbu's peasant villagers and document the rapid changeover from Maoist to post-Maoist China. In particular, they seek to explain the persistence of the deep structure of Chinese culture through thirty years of revolutionary praxis.

The authors assess the continuities and changes in rural China, moving from the traditional social organization and cultural life of the prerevolutionary period through the series of large scale efforts to implement planned social change which characterized Maoism - land reform, collectivization, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. They examine in detail late Maoist society in 1979-80 and go on to describe and analyze the extraordinary changes of the post-Mao years, during which Zengbu was decollectivized, and traditional customs and religious practices reappeared.

Much of the material contained in this highly readable study is unique in the literature on China and will be of interest to the general reader as well as to students and scholars of anthropology and Chinese studies.

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Editorial Reviews

A study of Zengbu, a Cantonese community, and the first comprehensive analysis of a rural Chinese society by foreign anthropologists since the Revolution of 1949. Examines the revolutionary experiences of Zengbu's peasant villagers and documents the rapid change-over from Maoist to post-Maoist China. An associated video documentary, Zengbu after Mao, is available from New Dimension Media, 85895 Lorane Highway, Eugene, OR 97405. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR
From the Publisher
"If you were going to read one book to become informed about the social, political, economic, and cultural impacts of the Chinese Revolution in rural China and trends after the decline of Mao Tse-tsung's towering influence on it, this would be an excellent choice....well-crafted, highly informative." Journal of Anthropological Research

"The tight fabric of the book is dense with factual detail and social scientific theory, happily seasoned with biographical accounts of individual actors in the drama over the decades." B.E. Wallacker, Choice

"As one of the first major ethnographic investigations of rural society in the People's Republic, Potter and Potter's book deserves widespread impressive ethnography. It should be of interest to all who study rural China, regardless of disciplne." Andrew B. Kipnis, Journal of Asian and African Studies

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780521357876
  • Publisher: Cambridge University Press
  • Publication date: 3/28/1990
  • Edition description: New Edition
  • Edition number: 1
  • Pages: 376
  • Product dimensions: 5.98 (w) x 8.98 (h) x 0.83 (d)

Table of Contents

List of illustrations viii
List of tables x
Preface xi
Notes on the text xiv
1 The old "feudal" order: Zengbu before Liberation 1
2 Establishing the new order 36
3 The ordeal of collectivization 59
4 The Cultural Revolution 83
5 Maoist society: the production team 94
6 Maoist society: the brigade 129
7 Maoist society: the commune 143
8 Impatient aspirations: transition to the post-Mao period 158
9 The cultural construction of emotion in rural Chinese social life 180
10 Marriage, household, and family form 196
11 Chinese birth planning: a cultural account 225
12 Lineage and collective: structure and praxis 251
13 Party organization 270
14 The party ethic: a devotion born of distress and enthusiasm 283
15 A caste-like system of social stratification: the position of peasants in modern China's social order 296
16 The Chinese peasants and the world capitalist system 313
17 The crystallization of post-Mao society: Zengbu in 1985 327
References 340
Index 348
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