Moral Politics in a South Chinese Village

Moral Politics in a South Chinese Village
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Responsibility, Reciprocity, and Resistance
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Hok Bun Ku
Asian Voices
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Exploring sensitive issues often hidden to outsiders, this engaging study traces the transformation of Ku Village during the first tumultuous decade of reform.
Exploring sensitive issues often hidden to outsiders, this engaging study traces the transformation and economic development of a south China village during the first tumultuous decade of reform. Drawing on a wealth of intimate detail, Ku explores the new sense of risk and mood of insecurity experienced in the post-reform era in Ku Village, a typical hamlet beyond the margins of richer suburban areas or fertile farmland. Villagers' dissatisfaction revolves around three key issues: the rising cost of living, mounting agricultural expenses, and the forcible implementation of birth-control quotas. Faced with these daunting problems, villagers have developed an array of strategies. Their weapons include resisting policies they consider unreasonable by disregarding fees, evading taxes, and ignoring strict family planning regulations; challenging the rationale of official policies and the legitimacy of the local government and its officials; and reestablishing clan associations to supercede local Party authority. Using lively everyday narratives and compelling personal stories, Ku argues that rural people are not in fact powerless and passive; instead they have their own moral system that informs their everyday family lives, work, and political activities. Their code embodies concepts of fairness and justice, a concrete definition of the relationship between the state and its citizens, an understanding of the boundaries and responsibilities of each party, and a clear notion of what constitutes good and bad government and officials. On the basis of these principles, they may challenge existing policies and deny the authority of officials and the government, thereby legitimizing their acts of self-defense. Through his richly realized ethnography, Ku shows the reader a world of memorable, fully realized individuals striving to control their fate in an often arbitrary world.
Part 1 Introduction: Entering the Village
Part 2 Chapter One: Staying in the Village, Exploring the World of Renqing Guanxi
Chapter 3 We are brothers and sisters, uncles and nephews
Chapter 4 We Hakkas are real Han; our ancestors came from the Central Plain
Chapter 5 Ku Village is such a good place, with good mountains and good water
Chapter 6 Natural geography brings our village good fengshui
Chapter 7 This is a world of renqing guanxi
Part 8 Chapter Two: Talking the Past, Making History
Chapter 9 The Communist army came to our village
Chapter 10 They said poor people had turned over
Chapter 11 The situation was at its worst; many died of starvation
Chapter 12 They were local emperors
Chapter 13 This was a period of chaos
Part 14 Chapter Three: Planting the Pomelo, Walking away from Poverty
Chapter 15 Villagers suffer poverty throughout their life
Chapter 16 Dividing the land is good
Chapter 17 Pomelo is our golden fruit
Chapter 18 All day every day is almost the same in the village
Chapter 19 What do farmers rely on? A piece of land and two hands...
Chapter 20 I prefer life in the village
Chapter 21 It was the way to achieve security
Part 22 Chapter Four: Practicing Democracy, Losing Legitimacy
Chapter 23 It is just old wine in a new bottle
Chapter 24 Our authority cannot be compared with before
Chapter 25 The game of the Communist Party can only cheat the dead
Part 26 Chapter Five: Defining Responsibility, Negotiating Relationships
Chapter 27 The government cannot cheat us any longer
Chapter 28 Today's government doesn't care about us
Chapter 29 The Maoist government took care of the poor and elderly…
Chapter 30 Cadres have to serve the people
Chapter 31 They aren't good leaders; they lack education
Chapter 32 …not bad, he is the ideal candidate for a village head
Part 33 Chapter Six: Expressing Discontent, Carrying out Resistance
Chapter 34 Nowadays there are more and more taxes
Chapter 35 This is a double taxation
Chapter 36 Money is in our pocket. Nobody can get it
Chapter 37 The Communist Party is excellent at naming
Chapter 38 The river is ours
Part 39 Chapter Seven: Paying the Price, Getting a Son
Chapter 40 A couple has the duty and obligation to carry out family planning
Chapter 41 Daughters are outsiders. Spending money on them is like spilling water
Chapter 42 Guerrillas of excess births are the troublemakers
Chapter 43 Those above have policy; those below have countermethods
Chapter 44 School is for education, not for birth control
Part 45 Chapter Eight: Bypassing the Government, Rebuilding the Village
Chapter 46 Whether we have a good or bad harvest depends on the heavens
Chapter 47 Never forget your roots
Chapter 48 We are old, Ku Village depends on you young people
Part 49 Conclusion: Leaving the Village

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