From Heaven to Earth: Images and Experiences of Development in China

By Elisabeth Croll | Go to book overview

Preface

Much has been written on China’s peasant revolution, less on the peasant experience of reform. It is now thirteen years since the first major reforms were introduced into China’s villages, and since that time there have been many shifts and changes in the translation and practice of reform policies so that many of the initial assumptions and judgements made by observers, analysts and participants have been modified over the years. It is not so much that the implications of the reforms for lives, practices and policies have become clearer as that they have become increasingly paradoxical and various. This study is an attempt to portray some of these paradoxes and variations in both their temporal and spatial dimensions.

This book is about images, policies and experiences of development primarily linking peasants’ experience of revolution and reform with their conceptualisations of time and change. It combines a study of the images or dreams of development as sets of rhetorical lenses through which peasant populations perceive collective, family and individual experiences, with an analysis of rural development policies and reforms at the centre of which lies the peasant household. This study is about the working and reworking of age-old peasant dreams for sons and land. It is also about the invention and dominance of the collective dream substituting an imaged future for the experience of the present, and the demise of this collective dream leaving uncertainty, ambiguity and anxiety in its wake. The book is also about the new and recent desires which motivate peasant households in China; the new and strenuous demands which are generated by current reforms allocating new responsibilities to the peasant household and family; and family strategies evolved by peasant households to maximise their resources within the context of reformed rural development.

More practically, the study focuses on rural development. In the first decades of revolution, the general interest in development in China was considerable, both because of the form which rural development took and the scale and scope of its development strategies. Prior to the past ten years, development in China was the subject of many studies and books. Indeed China’s ‘road to development’ became a favourite if not somewhat

-ix-

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From Heaven to Earth: Images and Experiences of Development in China
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Preface ix
  • Acknowledgements xvii
  • Introduction 1
  • Chapter 1 - Imaging Heaven 3
  • Part I - Reform: Household and Village 15
  • Chapter 2 - State Policies 17
  • Chapter 3 - Peasant Experiences 36
  • Part II - Readjustment: the Village 95
  • Chapter 4 - Resource Management 97
  • Chapter 5 - Information Networked 116
  • Chapter 6 - Income Generation 135
  • Part III - Readjustment: the Household 161
  • Chapter 7 - Aggregation 163
  • Chapter 8 - Continuity 181
  • Chapter 9 - Discontinuity 198
  • Conclusion 213
  • Chapter 10 - Living the Earth 215
  • Appendix 1 226
  • Appendix 2 292
  • Notes 299
  • Index 311
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