By Sulamith Heins Potter
This landmark examine of Zengbu, a Cantonese neighborhood, is the 1st complete research of a rural chinese language society via international anthropologists because the Revolution of 1949. The authors learn the innovative reviews of Zengbu's peasant villagers and rfile the swift changeover from Maoist to post-Maoist China. particularly, they search to provide an explanation for the patience of the deep constitution of chinese language tradition via thirty years of progressive praxis. A video documentary, produced through the Potters and Tom Luehrsen, Zengbu After Mao, is accessible from New measurement Media. For video buy or apartment info touch New measurement Media, 85895 Lorane road, Eugene, Oregon 97405.
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Extra info for China's Peasants: The Anthropology of a Revolution
The villagers' recollections are not political myths about the old days before Liberation; they are, unfortunately, true and accurate, and can be confirmed by outside observation. Graham Peck, that acute observer of pre-Liberation China, personally traveled through Guangdong during this time. He describes graphically what happened there during the Japanese occupation, when the Guomindang government turned a sustained drought into a disaster infamous throughout China, by selling rice from the unoccupied areas to the Japanese, even though this meant that their own people, like those in Zengbu, would starve: If the bad harvest had been the autumn one, and the leaves soon fell and turned inedible, the peasants would begin eating bark or clay, or selling their farm tools and land to buy back more grain.
People with dim soul lights actually attracted gui. Such individuals had to be continuously careful and had to employ every magical means available to guard against supernatural attacks. The traditional Zengbu peasant world view and philosophy of life had certain internal contradictions. People were achievement-oriented; on the one hand, they worked hard and tried to become wealthy and successful, and there was believed to be a definite connection between effort and achievement. On the other hand, success was believed to depend upon people's fate at birth and later upon their relations with supernatural agencies and powers.
Thus from an early age the slaves were taught the kind of submissive and deferential behavior that would most effectively keep them out of trouble. Slave status was hereditary in the male line. Slaves were considered property of the dominant lineage and were not allowed to leave the village. However, under certain circumstances, they were allowed to purchase their freedom by paying back their purchase price. In Ping Shan, a settlement of the Deng lineage in Hong Kong's New Territories, 80 kilometers or so to the south of Zengbu, there is a story about a man surnamed Soo who left the Deng lineage as a slave, and rose to become a military official of the Qing Dynasty.