Organizer: Vivienne Shue, Cornell University
Chair: Ralph A. Thaxton, Jr., Brandeis University
A Gendered Modern State: Taxes on Prostitution and the Creation of Local State
Institutions in Republican China
Elizabeth Remick, University of Oregon
Recent scholarship (e.g., work by Gail Hershatter) on Republican China has argued that gender and sexuality are important political issues because they provide new windows onto understanding the growth of the ideas of "modernity," nationalism, and identity in China. This paper seeks to argue that there was sometimes an even more direct, material relationship among gender, sexuality, power and the creation of the "modern" state in China. In particular, cases in 1920s and 1930s Guangdong counties reveal that the creation of modern local state institutions was financed largely by revenues from taxes on female prostitution. Without these taxes on the sexual slavery of women, (male) elite efforts to build the new social and political organizations-local legislatures, orphanages, relief organizations, police, schools-that we recognize as being "'modern" could not have been realized. Modern local state institutions in these counties thus did not simply arise from a gendered ideology of modernization, but also were made possible by the material proceeds of the sexual exploitation of women. The extent to which this same pattern has been repeated in other regions of China, and in other countries, particularly those with high levels of trafficking in women and children, deserves attention.
Reinventing Mao's Peasant Revolution Theory: Agrarian Structure and Peasant Power
in Pre-1949 South China
I. Yuan, National Chengchi University
If the southern Chinese peasants acted as a major historical force in determining the course of social change as suggested by Mao, the odds against them were heavily weighted. The efforts to capture the energies and loyalties of the southern Chinese peasant population did not begin with the advent of the P.R.C. in 1949. It began more than a generation earlier. Accordingly, the decade of l928-1937 may be identified as the CCP's first abortive attempt to chart a course of rural revolution calculated to hasten the end of the southern mode of tenure system by exploiting the revolutionary potentialities of the southern Chinese peasants. Mao's southern peasant strategy originated in a protracted struggle with the KMT and was also related to the minority population in this region-the Hakka, the Shezu, and the Lizu. Without the use of violence in the peasant movement, the flames of peasant struggle would not have been ignited. Without the agitation of social cleavage of marginal groups, no obvious social bases existed to mobilize the southern Chinese peasants. In fact, Mao skillfully exploited centuries-old conflicts between the settlers and local natives-the ethnic minority and the majority in this region.
Questions of why and how the southern Chinese peasants submitted to such political control and, economic extraction, and thus responded by embracing the communist leadership, are especially intriguing given the pervasiveness of the southern Chinese corporate lineage structure. The orientation of peasant localism and strong lineage cohesion might well seem to stand in the way of such control. The southern Chinese peasant commitment to household economy might be expected to act as a major obstacle to the imposed class struggle and collective-minded state. It is inconceivable that a property, family, religion and market-oriented peasant population, particularly in a region of strong lineage cohesion and solidarity, should suddenly embrace communist leadership.
Research for this project suggests a better explanation. First, in contrast to the moral economy school of thought presuming that Chinese society provides a single, uniform basis of solidarity for resistance to the forces of market and state, there were in rural southern China a number of competing social groups and competitive social institutions. Secondly, the CCP mobilization was neither easy nor successful. Thirdly, in contrast to previous studies on Mao's "mass line" during the Jiangxi Soviet period, this research includes the essential elements of the marginal groups, the ethnic minorities and the illegitimates. This project surveys: (1) the contours of the southern Chinese peasant and the CCP relations in 1924-1937 South China; (2) the three characteristics of the pre-1949 southern socio-economic structure; (3) the preconditions for communist revolution in pre-1949 South China; (4) the CCP mobilization mechanism; and (5) the patterns of conflict between the CCP and the southern Chinese peasants.
Selective Policy Implementation in Rural China
Lianjiang Li, Hong Kong Baptist University
In post-Mao China, rural officials in many locations often aggressively collect taxes and enforce birth control, while refusing to carry out central directives that demand they respect peasants' "lawful rights and interests" (hefa quanyi). Using archival sources and interviews with local officials and villagers (mainly in Hebei and Shandong), this paper argues that the current cadre management system, which is characterized by tight hierarchical personnel control and substantial cadre autonomy from social pressure, is the institutional root of this pattern of selective policy implementation. Leaders at higher levels are usually able to employ their authority over personnel to persuade their subordinates to enforce policies targeting peasants, but they often fail to ensure that lower level cadres observe policies that were designed to regulate cadre-villager relations and protect villagers from predatory behavior. The key cause for this is that without mass participation in cadre performance assessment (or electoral accountability) higher levels alone cannot determine if such policies have been carried out.
While selective policy implementation is hardly new in China, post-Mao cadre management reforms, including the introduction of one-level down personnel control, the repudiation of mass campaigns, and the spread of the cadre responsibility system have considerably aggravated it. In the mean time, as the Center continues to promulgate and try to enforce pro-peasant measures and as many villagers have taken a stand against local powerholders' poor implementation of such policies, three-party contention over policy implementation has begun to emerge.