Rightful Resistance in Rural China (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)

Rightful Resistance in Rural China (Cambridge Studies in Contentious Politics)

Kevin J. O'Brien

Language: English

Pages: 200

ISBN: 0521678528

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


How can the poor and weak 'work' a political system to their advantage? Drawing mainly on interviews and surveys in rural China, Kevin O'Brien and Lianjiang Li show that popular action often hinges on locating and exploiting divisions within the state. Otherwise powerless people use the rhetoric and commitments of the central government to try to fight misconduct by local officials, open up clogged channels of participation, and push back the frontiers of the permissible. This 'rightful resistance' has far-reaching implications for our understanding of contentious politics. As O'Brien and Li explore the origins, dynamics, and consequences of rightful resistance, they highlight similarities between collective action in places as varied as China, the former East Germany, and the United States, while suggesting how Chinese experiences speak to issues such as opportunities to protest, claims radicalization, tactical innovation, and the outcomes of contention.

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People’s Commune authorities recorded such flight is not clear, but one point, on which still more evidence is desirable, is interesting: the old-timers in Da Fo tell us that, in the Ji County village where they lived during the river dig, the young people had run away en masse to escape the work demands of the commune authorities. “Only old men and old women were left in the village,” recalls Bao Peisun, “and they could not do any work at all.”21 Several dozen village youths left Da Fo for

1943 Bao Jingan was beaten by one of Yang Faxian’s subcommanders. At the time, it was a customary practice that anyone could use the village stone roller, which belonged to Bao Yuhua, as long as it was not already in use. However, when Bao Jingan was using the roller to process his millet, one of Yang’s soldiers 33 34 35 62 Ruan Zhaoyin, interview, June 17, 2006. Pang Siyin, interview, August 21, 1989. Bao Zhilong, interviews, August 16, 20, 1989; Bao Huayin, interview, August 16, 1993. P1:

1957, with the APC disbanded, the Ruans got four hundred jin per member, putting them back at the pre-cooperative level. The reason grain income leaped back to subsistence level standards in 1957, according to Ruan Baozhang, is that the flood had enriched the land, making for a good wheat harvest that summer. The bumper harvest of the first year of the Great Leap Forward was a different story. As Ruan explains, “In 1958 the wheat, peanuts, cotton, and corn all were bountiful, but we received little

mainland from the Kuomintang (Chinese Nationalist Party) following World War II and how village people saw Kuomintang state interventions in their lives. Two experiences shifted my focus and led to my interest in the Great Leap campaign as a famine-inducing state failure. First, while interviewing in remote villages during the late 1980s, I found that villagers would respond to questions about the 1942 Henan Famine with stories of their personal suffering in the radical scarcity of 1958–61. I

Through a friend, Huang was able to persuade the company cook to let her use her grain ration to nourish herself while resting in her home, thereby avoiding the stressful, energy-draining ordeal of taking her meals in the public dining hall, which was located a long distance from her quarters. But Bao Zhigen dispatched a female leader of the harvest company to Huang’s bedside to ask how she could be sick for as long as five days. Huang was required to give back the grain and to take her meals with

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