Following the formation of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences in 1977 and the beginning of a Sino-American scholarly exchange program in October 1978, a small number of foreigners has been able to conduct fieldwork in China after a hiatus of over thirty years. Welcomed though these new opportunities were by potential U.S. field researchers, the initial stage of enthusiasm was shortly overshadowed by both the difficulties foreign researchers faced in China and the imposition, in early 1981, of a temporary moratorium on long-term fieldwork by outsiders. Sober without being pessimistic, realistic without being discouraging, the contributors to this book describe the context in which fieldwork in China became possible, the constraints under which foreign fieldworkers have labored, and the potential rewards of field research to both Chinese and U.S. scholars. They also assess the relative value of fieldwork in China versus fieldwork at its gate, Hong Kong. The book includes substantive reports by U.S. and Chinese scholars (among them Fei Xiaotong, China's preeminent social anthropologist) as well as concrete advice to those contemplating field research in China.
Preface -- Social Science and Fieldwork in China: Context and Constraints -- The Social Sciences and Fieldwork in China: An Overview -- Sociology and Anthropology in China: Revitalization and Its Constraints -- On Studying China at a Distance -- Views from the Field -- The New Face of Rural China: Kaixiangong Revisited after Half a Century -- Field Research in China's Communes: Views of a “Guest” -- Taitou Revisited: Prospects for Community Restudies -- Ethnographic Fieldwork in Rural Guangdong: The Virtues of Flexibility