Negotiating modernity at China's periphery: an investigation of development and policy interventions in Nujiang Prefecture

Russell Edward Raymond Harwood

Research output: ThesisDoctoral Thesis

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This thesis examines how people living in one of China's poorest and most isolated rural communities are negotiating the wide-scale social and economic transformations associated with economic development. My analysis draws upon ethnographic research and government documents collected in the Gongshan Dulong and Nu Nationalities Autonomous County (hereafter Gongshan), Nujiang Prefecture, northwest Yunnan Province. Until recently, Gongshan's largely ethnic minority population lived as subsistence farmers, relatively cut off from the national economy beyond the county border. However, over the past ten years the confluence of several major government development interventions has contributed to the marginalisation of traditional agriculture livelihoods and greater community dependence upon government. These interventions are: the increased policing of the local Nature Reserve, the Sloping Land Conversion Program, the centralisation of schools, free nine-year compulsory education, and the promotion of outward migration for work. I argue that these interventions, along with the expansion of social and economic infrastructure, have been a particularly effective vehicle for further integrating Gongshan's ethnic minority population into the Chinese Party-state. My theoretical framework is primarily based upon the concept of modernity. I employ Anthony Giddens' work on modernity to demonstrate that one of the consequences of recent economic development in Gongshan is that the local population is becoming increasingly "disembedded" from their local context. Major advances in mass communication, transport and the freer flow of capital are bridging spatial and temporal divides between nation-states, as well as between central governing authorities and marginal communities such as Gongshan. The people of Gongshan are being "lifted out" of their immediate social and economic ii context and exposed to national and global forces that are reshaping their local context. M
Original languageEnglish
QualificationDoctor of Philosophy
Publication statusUnpublished - 2009


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