How the Farmers Changed China: Power of the People

How the Farmers Changed China: Power of the People

How the Farmers Changed China: Power of the People

How the Farmers Changed China: Power of the People


Zhou argues that, rather than the communist leadership, it is Chinese farmers who have been the driving force behind their country's phenomenal economic growth and social change. She focuses on local initiatives and the stories of ordinary people.


Edward Friedman

Kate Xiao Zhou is a fresh voice who tells an exciting story about world-shaking events in How the Farmers Changed China. Trained in political science at Princeton University, where she earned her doctorate, and drawing on many years of hard work and deep friendships in China's countryside, Professor Zhou is one of a new generation of uniquely able American social scientists from China that includes Minxin Pei, Zhiyuan Cui, Huo Shitao, Suisheng Zhao, X.L. Deng, and many equally qualified others. These brilliant scholars offer a very special combination of life experiences and professional training that is contributing to a rapid and dramatic improvement in our understanding of how China really works.

Even Professor Zhou's striking use of unconventional language alerts us to misleading stereotypes that obscure the tremendous forces that have been expanding wealth in post-Mao China and facilitating a spectacular rise of China, perhaps comparable to the nineteenth-century rise of Germany. Kate Zhou vividly depicts how rural people in post-Mao China have been the core agents of this momentous transformation. She dubs the energetic people who have been the motivating force and the creative source of China's extraordinary liberation of productive dynamism "farmers," a term that conjures up images of market-oriented, hard-headed economic actors.

In contrast, the conventional term "peasant" seems popularly identified with an old-fashioned group entrapped in ancient ways. "Peasants" seem the objects of history-making action by others. Kate Zhou's powerful story, however, deals with leading dramatic actors on the stage of history, the human agency that is making China once again central to the global drama, hence "farmers." This book challenges conventional categories and conventional wisdom.

Kate Zhou tells us that Western theory does not yet readily accommodate the power and potential of this leaderless force in China, the farmers. Nor, she shows, is conventional theory, Eastern or Western, ready for the extraordinary dynamic power of women farmers, a core feature of this extraordinary enrichment of life in China. There is so much in How the Farmers Changed China that is new, challenging, and so very important

Professor Zhou clearly sketches How the Farmers Changed China. It is indeed true, and at times even acknowledged in writing in China, that . . .

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