Hygiene, Sociality, and Culture in Contemporary Rural China. The Uncanny New Village
journal contributionposted on 2019-02-21, 12:20 authored by Lili Lai
By taking the lived body as local, unstable, diverse, and open to urban and global incorporations, this book highlights contemporary Chinese and global reductions of diverse conditions into generalized objects, especially in the Chinese state's well-intended social welfare effort of "building socialist new villages" which in the mean time shows clearly how judgments come to be disguised as facts (Cf. Pigg 1992). The political economic roots and social determinants of "dirty villages," the strategies of inhabiting "villages with empty centers," and the local and national projects of cultural production all reveal much about class and power in China today. Unlike other close ethnographies of small places in China, this reading of local culture is considered in the context of the national and global practices that maintain a deeply divisive rural-urban divide in everyday hygienic practices. This book argues that substantive ethnographic attention to the specificities of village life in the contemporary Henan context can destabilize China's chronic rural-urban divide and contribute to an effective rural welfare intervention to improve the hygienic conditions of village life at present.