Re: rural reconstruction

From Brian Turner <>
Date Mon, 9 Jan 2006 07:13:59 -0800 (PST)
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In-reply-to <BAY109-F14C0B1CD179631514B3B31A9220@phx.gbl>

Lanyan Chen is an author who writes about women's
co-ops in contemporary China, and in one article
(below) compares it to the Gung Ho movement as
described by Helen Foster Snow, Rewi Alley, et al.  

Lanyan Chen (1999) "Expanding women's co-operatives in
China through institutional linkages" Development and
Change. Vol 1 No. 4, pp. 715-738.

The link contains a
reference to another article by her.


Regarding the point about the communes being a
monumental experiment in rural reconstruction, I
wholly agree, however, certain periods more than
others.  Whenever the production teams or possibly
brigades had elected leadership, and were given
relative autonomy and rural markets were given some
breathing room, they took on characteristics that
cooperatives and collectives might learn from. 

--- Sunzi Hu <> wrote:

> A while back this list briefly discussed the "rural
> reconstruction" 
> (彨 or simply
> "xiangjian") work promoted by 
> insititutions such as the James Yen school in Hebei,
> and by figures such as 
> Wen Tiejun. That thread touched briefly on how the
> most prominent 
> participants in this self-described "movement" tend
> to understand their 
> work, in particular the role of cooperatives
> (usually buying and selling 
> coops, sometimes cooperative enterprises) in
> relation to regional, national 
> and global political economies. Alex, for instance,
> pointed out that the 
> general assumption tends to be that xiangjian
> projects such as pilot coops 
> should help some of China's more marginalized
> villagers establish a more 
> competitive position in the market, and that some
> critics have argued that 
> coops mainly improve peasants' position relative to
> other peasants (rather 
> than to "middle men"), so that the projects'
> ultimate benefits for China's 
> overall rural population would be negligible.
> I would like to reopen this discussion, and I would
> also like to ask if 
> anyone can recommend any English or Chinese
> materials on "xiangjian" in 
> general. I'm only now getting around to wading
> through (with my bad Chinese) 
> the Chinese literature available on the web, and a
> few materials I picked up 
> this summer. I haven't seen anything at all written
> in English on the topic 
> - does anyone know of anything? As for the Chinese,
> can anyone recommend any 
> good introductions to the following topics:
> 1) the various meanings of key notions such as
> "xiangjian" and "alternative 
> devopment" (linglei fazhan) (they seem to mean very
> different things to 
> different people and in different contexts)
> 2) what are some of the various long-term visions
> associated with Chinese 
> xiangjian work, and how do they address criticisms
> like the one mentioned 
> above, and bigger political economic questions in
> general?
> 3) how do various xiangjian advocates (Wen Tiejun
> representing one, but not 
> the only trend) relate the "New Rural Reconstruction
> Movement" to its early 
> 20th century predecessor and its various advocates
> (James Yen, Liang 
> Shuming, Tao Xingzhi - themselves representing
> somewhat differing trends), 
> and to other "alternative development" models (most
> notably the Indian KSSP 
> model)?
> For instance, at the founding of the People's
> University Center for Rural 
> Reconstruction this summer, several of the foreign
> guests tried to relate 
> Chinese peasants' situation to that of people in
> Kerala, Chiapas, and 
> elsewhere, but Wen concluded the conference by
> basically disowning this 
> relation and insisting that, because Chinese
> peasants' situation is so 
> different (that most Chinese peasants have secure
> access to enough land to 
> take care of basic subsistence, etc.), it was still
> unclear to him exactly 
> what the Chinese xiangjian movement could glean from
> alternative development 
> movements in other countries. At the time I
> suspected that he was just 
> saying that for political reasons - otherwise why
> would he have invited 
> these guests in the first place? - but later several
> lower-profile activists 
> said in personal conversation that this was really
> Wen's position (some 
> agreed and some disagreed with his assessment).
> Thanks for your help!
> Matthew Allen Hale
> Anthropology Department
> University of Washington
> Seattle, WA 98195

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