The rise of popular politics is among one the most significant social and political developments the People’s Republic of China has witnessed in the post-Mao era. People from all walks of life have responded to rising inequalities and the privatization of collective goods with a new quest for justice. Although China has remained a censorial society under the authoritarian rule of the Chinese Communist Party, state-society relations are being remade by interventions of emergent publics through word and action.
In this book, a group of anthropologists, specializing in Chinese society, examine various facets of popular politics, which are animated by the pursuit of justice, fairness and good government. The ethnographic chapters collectively analyse how ‘the political’ arises in particular judicial situations, provoking public judgements or other forms of critical engagement. Focusing on the interplay between private and public spaces, between morality and law and between speech and action, the contributors in this book explore how such engagements are changing Chinese society from the bottom-up.
As the first systematic exploration of the relationship between popular politics, emergent publics and notions of justice in contemporary China, this book will be useful for students of Chinese Studies, Politics and Anthropology.
Table of Contents
List of Contributors
Introduction: Judging the State in Contemporary China, Susanne Brandtstädter
1. Battles over Green Space: Land Disputes, Rights Activism, and Emergent Publics in Urban China, Li Zhang
2. Making Personal Life Political: Political Trajectories of Everyday Conversations in China’s Online Communities, Cuiming Pang
3. Marginalizing the law: Corporate social responsibility, worker hotlines and the shifting grounds of rights consciousness in contemporary China, Ellen Hertz and Marylène Lieber
4. Judging publics and contested exclusion: The moral economy of citizenship in China, Alan Smart and Josephine Smart
5. Policy Documents: Imaginations of the State and the Struggle for Justice in a Chinese Land-losing Village, Chi-pui Cheung
6. What Rights Cannot Do: The Making and Unmaking of Public Goods in the Yunnanese Countryside, Andrea Pia
7. Public Buddhist Philosophy: Civic Engagement and Discursive Space among a Religious Group in Shanghai, Weishan Huang
8. Concealing and Revealing Senses of Justice in Rural China, Hans Steinmüller
Afterword, Isabelle Thireau
Susanne Brandtstädter is Professor and Chair in the Anthropology of Globalization at the University of Cologne.
Hans Steinmuller is Assistant Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the London School of Economics.