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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considered themselves to be the heroes of the local party branch, surfaced to play an even greater role in making claims, framing identities, and mobilizing villagers in pursuit of collective action.54 The problem was that the lethal violence of the war years had exposed Bao Zhilong and the Da Fo militia activists to repeated acts of savagery. Their reciprocal killings of known members of the violent Yang Faxian puppet regime ultimately produced a long-term memory of the war that justified using

preserved in the memory of villagers. The first has to do with a key Civil War–related death. In mid-1947, when the Civil War heated up, the Peasant Associations in the salt land villages of the HebeiShandong-Henan revolutionary base area kicked off a massive army recruitment drive, exhorting young villagers to join the PLA and convening sending-off ceremonies for thousands of volunteers.86 Da Fo sent 120 young people into the PLA. These semi-peasant warriors from the bad earth zone of the North

CUUS130/Thaxton 0 521 86131 4 March 17, 2008 15:6 The Onset of Collectivization and Popular Dissatisfaction visited Da Fo in August 1989, Secretary Bao still could not read his own name. At the time, Bao asked me to show him a piece of American money. I presented a George Washington quarter. Bao had no idea who the first president of the United States was, and although he had a good understanding of Chiang Kai-shek and his politics, he had little if any knowledge of Confucius and his

continue working in the collective fields and to shuck the harvested corn. Former members of the First Company are still overtaken with disgust and indignation when remembering such attacks on family mourning rights. Kimberley Ens Manning has shown that whether rural Chinese women reflect favorably on the Great Leap and its promised sexual equality and expansion of maternalist entitlements depends substantially on how they were positioned vis-`a-vis village power holders with party and kin

newfound perch in Liangmen People’s Commune.110 The campaign to forge a unified popular commitment to Mao’s revolutionary ascent, directed by Da Fo’s trio of party leaders (each of whom served as party secretary at some point in the Great Leap), delivered relentless physical harm to those who underperformed, both within the public criticism sessions and outside them. These punishments were driven by utopian work performance expectations and useless work payment formulas, and villagers bitterly

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