Reinventing Chinese Tradition

Reinventing Chinese Tradition : The Cultural Politics of Late Socialism

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The final destination of the Long March and center of the Chinese Communist Party's red bases, Yan'an acquired mythical status during the Maoist era. Though the city's significance as an emblem of revolutionary heroism has faded, today's Chinese still glorify Yan'an as a sanctuary for ancient cultural traditions. Ka-ming Wu's ethnographic account of contemporary Yan'an documents how people have reworked the revival of three rural practices--paper-cutting, folk storytelling, and spirit cults--within (and beyond) the socialist legacy. Moving beyond dominant views of Yan'an folk culture as a tool of revolution or object of market reform, Wu reveals how cultural traditions become battlegrounds where conflicts among the state, market forces, and intellectuals in search of an authentic China play out. At the same time, she shows these emerging new dynamics in the light of the ways rural residents make sense of rapid social change. Alive with details, Reinventing Chinese Tradition is an in-depth, eye-opening study of an evolving culture and society within contemporary China.
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Product details

  • Hardback | 208 pages
  • 152 x 229 x 20.32mm | 430.91g
  • University of Illinois Press
  • Baltimore, United States
  • English
  • 0252039882
  • 9780252039881

Review quote

"A lively, engaging ethnography."--China Quarterly "Wu's theoretical approach and frequent engagement with a broader ethnographic literature makes this a must-read for specialists. It is recommended for anyone looking for insights into the complexities of contemporary rural China's cultural scene."--China Journal "I have read nothing like it in the field of Chinese studies. Original, insightful, and thoughtful, this book will be a must-read for a wide audience."--Lisa Rofel, author of Desiring China: Experiments in Neoliberalism, Sexuality, and Public Culture "This book uses solid ethnographic data and rich research findings in the field to provide convincing support for the newer trends in the theory of tradition. The profound analyses make a strong case for the argument that tradition is changeable."--Journal of Folklore Research "This book constitutes an excellent contribution to contemporary Chinese folklore studies and would make a wonderful addition to undergraduate courses on East Asian folklore and cross-cultural explorations of contemporary cultural politics."--Journal of American Folklore "Reinventing Chinese Tradition is a fine example of how the anthropological analysis of tradition and suggests how anthropologists can articulate the relationship between modernity and tradition(s) in all societies."--Anthropology Review Database
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About Ka-Ming Wu

Ka-ming Wu is an assistant professor of culture and religious studies at the Chinese University of Hong Kong.
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