Exploring sensitive issues often hidden to outsiders, this engaging study traces the transformation and economic development of a south China village during the first tumultuous decade of reform. Drawing on a wealth of intimate detail, Ku explores the new sense of risk and mood of insecurity experienced in the post-reform era in Ku Village, a typical hamlet beyond the margins of richer suburban areas or fertile farmland. Villagers' dissatisfaction revolves around three key issues: the rising cost of living, mounting agricultural expenses, and the forcible implementation of birth-control quotas. Faced with these daunting problems, villagers have developed an array of strategies. Their weapons include resisting policies they consider unreasonable by disregarding fees, evading taxes, and ignoring strict family planning regulations; challenging the rationale of official policies and the legitimacy of the local government and its officials; and reestablishing clan associations to supercede local Party authority. Using lively everyday narratives and compelling personal stories, Ku argues that rural people are not in fact powerless and passive; instead they have their own moral system that informs their everyday family lives, work, and political activities. Their code embodies concepts of fairness and justice, a concrete definition of the relationship between the state and its citizens, an understanding of the boundaries and responsibilities of each party, and a clear notion of what constitutes good and bad government and officials. On the basis of these principles, they may challenge existing policies and deny the authority of officials and the government, thereby legitimizing their acts of self-defense. Through his richly realized ethnography, Ku shows the reader a world of memorable, fully realized individuals striving to control their fate in an often arbitrary world.
Hok Bun Ku is assistant professor in the Department of Applied Social Sciences, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University. His father was a native of Ku Village who left to join the Chinese People's Liberation Army in 1948. Ku grew up in Hong Kong and first returned to his ancestral home in 1996.
Part 1 Introduction: Entering the Village Part 2 Chapter One: Staying in the Village, Exploring the World of Renqing Guanxi Chapter 3 We are brothers and sisters, uncles and nephews Chapter 4 We Hakkas are real Han; our ancestors came from the Central Plain Chapter 5 Ku Village is such a good place, with good mountains and good water Chapter 6 Natural geography brings our village good fengshui Chapter 7 This is a world of renqing guanxi Part 8 Chapter Two: Talking the Past, Making History Chapter 9 The Communist army came to our village Chapter 10 They said poor people had turned over Chapter 11 The situation was at its worst; many died of starvation Chapter 12 They were local emperors Chapter 13 This was a period of chaos Part 14 Chapter Three: Planting the Pomelo, Walking away from Poverty Chapter 15 Villagers suffer poverty throughout their life Chapter 16 Dividing the land is good Chapter 17 Pomelo is our golden fruit Chapter 18 All day every day is almost the same in the village Chapter 19 What do farmers rely on? A piece of land and two hands... Chapter 20 I prefer life in the village Chapter 21 It was the way to achieve security Part 22 Chapter Four: Practicing Democracy, Losing Legitimacy Chapter 23 It is just old wine in a new bottle Chapter 24 Our authority cannot be compared with before Chapter 25 The game of the Communist Party can only cheat the dead Part 26 Chapter Five: Defining Responsibility, Negotiating Relationships Chapter 27 The government cannot cheat us any longer Chapter 28 Today's government doesn't care about us Chapter 29 The Maoist government took care of the poor and elderly... Chapter 30 Cadres have to serve the people Chapter 31 They aren't good leaders; they lack education Chapter 32 ...not bad, he is the ideal candidate for a village head Part 33 Chapter Six: Expressing Discontent, Carrying out Resistance Chapter 34 Nowadays there are more and more taxes Chapter 35 This is a double taxation Chapter 36 Money is in our pocket. Nobody can get it Chapter 37 The Communist Party is excellent at naming Chapter 38 The river is ours Part 39 Chapter Seven: Paying the Price, Getting a Son Chapter 40 A couple has the duty and obligation to carry out family planning Chapter 41 Daughters are outsiders. Spending money on them is like spilling water Chapter 42 Guerrillas of excess births are the troublemakers Chapter 43 Those above have policy; those below have countermethods Chapter 44 School is for education, not for birth control Part 45 Chapter Eight: Bypassing the Government, Rebuilding the Village Chapter 46 Whether we have a good or bad harvest depends on the heavens Chapter 47 Never forget your roots Chapter 48 We are old, Ku Village depends on you young people Part 49 Conclusion: Leaving the Village