China Urban: Ethnographies of Contemporary Culture
Li Zhang, Tad Ballew, Susan Brownell, Robert Efird, Ellen Hertz, Lisa Hoffman, Sandra Hyde, Lida Junghans, Louisa Schein
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'China Urban' is an ethnographic account of China’s cities and the place that urban space holds in China’s imagination. In addition to investigating this nation’s rapidly changing urban landscape, its contributors emphasize the need to rethink the very meaning of the “urban” and the utility of urban-focused anthropological critiques during a period of unprecedented change on local, regional, national, and global levels.
Through close attention to everyday lives and narratives and with a particular focus on gender, market, and spatial practices, this collection stresses that, in the case of China, rural life and the impact of socialism must be considered in order to fully comprehend the urban. Individual essays note the impact of legal barriers to geographic mobility in China, the proliferation of different urban centers, the different distribution of resources among various regions, and the pervasive appeal of the urban, both in terms of living in cities and in acquiring products and conventions signaling urbanity. Others focus on the direct sales industry, the Chinese rock music market, the discursive production of femininity and motherhood in urban hospitals, and the transformations in access to healthcare.
'China Urban'will interest anthropologists, sociologists, political scientists, and those studying urban planning, China, East Asia, and globalization.
wasted.’’ Schools, too, ‘‘did not think about what kinds of students and what level students society needed; they just trained them.’’ And students had ‘‘no pressure of competition,’’ which made them ‘‘passive and not willing to study.’’ Markets, real and imagined, became the saviors in this logic, forms of rationalization for a contradictory and ine≈cient system. ‘‘The school’s goal now,’’ Xie continued, ‘‘is to let the market help solve these problems.’’ In job fairs in 1996, for example,
conducted in August 1999, for six months in 1997–98, twelve months in 1995–96, and the summers of 1993 and 1994. All names have been changed, including those with o≈cial titles. In 1996, more than 80 percent of the graduates went into state-a≈liated units, and in 1997 about 70 percent did. In 1996, 23 percent went into the civil service, research institutes, and educational facilities, and 61 percent went into factories or enterprises. In the summer of 1999, the vice director of dut’s employment
years, female informants found themselves still single, struggling financially, living in dormitories, and nearing the end of the culturally acceptable marriageable years. The cost of purchasing or renting a flat is prohibitive, and most women with temporary residential status remain in company or work unit dormitories until they marry. However, an o≈cial recognition of the shifting social demographics is occurring in Shenzhen. Single permanent residents, male and female, who reach the age of
venture marriage introduction agency. We were to view videotapes of prospective brides that his company produces for male clients in Hong Kong, Singapore, Japan, and America. A joint venture between Hong Kong and Shenzhen firms, the company was called an ‘‘international marriage service center’’ specializing in foreign marriage. This company had branch o≈ces in several Southeast Asian countries. All of their domestic clients were Chinese women with some secondary and university education, ranging
Shenzhen assisting two Japanese farmers in their quest for a Chinese bride. Municipal governments in Japan are involved in the search for brides and host welcome ceremonies for the incoming brides and their new spouses. Mr. Wei, the marriage consultant, showed me pictures of the bridal ceremonies, which he had brought along to show to potential Chinese brides. Looking through them, I saw women standing on a stage in frilly white dresses with a large banner behind them in Chinese characters