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After 50 Years, “Marketing and Social Structure in Rural China” Remains a China Studies Classic

By Daniel Knorr G. William Skinner (1925-2008) was an anthropologist of China who taught at Cornell, Columbia, Stanford, and the University of California, Davis during his long and impressive career. President of the AAS in 1983, among Skinner’s many contributions to the field is a trio of articles that appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies in 1964-65, in which he set out his analysis of the social and economic networks connecting marketing towns in rural China. Skinner’s insights attracted such attention among China specialists that in 1974 the AAS published his JAS articles in a single volume, Marketing and Social Structure in Rural China. The book proved so popular that the association reprinted it five times over the next three decades. As Daniel Knorr explains in the short essay below, Skinner’s work remains one of the foundational texts for China studies and should be read (and re-read) by all scholars in the field. We are currently offering copies of the sixth reprint of Mark ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Sara Dickey

Sara Dickey is Professor of Anthropology at Bowdoin College and author of Living Class in Urban India, published by Rutgers University Press and winner of the 2018 AAS Ananda Kent Coomaraswamy Prize Honorable Mention. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. Most broadly, I explore what it is like to “live class” every day, at all levels of the class hierarchy, for Madurai residents as they navigate the inequalities of late capitalism. The book’s analytical frame emphasizes the role that moralized class identities and relations themselves play in producing the politics of class. Drawing from over 30 years of fieldwork, I concentrate on subjective aspects of class, examining both immediate and long-term impacts. My study reveals the material consequences of local class identities while simultaneously highlighting the poignant drive for dignity in the face of moralizing class stereotypes. I examine these processes in a variety of spheres—debt and credit, consumption, the ...

#AsiaNow Speaks with Nathaniel Roberts

Nate Roberts is Research Fellow at the Centre for Modern Indian Studies, University of Göttingen, and author of To Be Cared For: The Power of Conversion and Foreignness of Belonging in an Indian Slum, published by University of California Press and winner of the 2018 AAS Bernard S. Cohn Prize for a first book on South Asia. To begin with, please tell us what your book is about. The book is about a community of women and men living under conditions of profound poverty and exclusion from the dominant national society. They were called Paraiyars (“Pariahs”), but they said this was just a label others had put on them, and that in reality that had no caste. I begin with their experience of rejection by their own countrymen, and the moral sense they try to make of it. For them, caste is the denial of common humanity and the refusal of care; against it they posed an alternative moral vision based on human vulnerability and the obligation to care for those in need. Yet even within the slum communit ...

The Social Network: Lisu Use Digital Media to Find Each Other and Preserve Their Culture

Lisu (identified by patchwork bags, and man wearing blue shirt) wait in line for the bank to open on a very chilly morning in Fugong, China. Photo: Mark Goldschmidt By Michele Zack In the mid-1980s, I was a budget tourist on a hill tribe trek far from roads or electricity in Northern Thailand. There, I first encountered the Lisu—adaptable, egalitarian highlanders scattered in corners of China, Myanmar, and Thailand (tiny populations also live in India and Laos). I picked up with the group again in the 1990s when—by then based in Thailand—I wrote a popular ethnography of Lisu living in three nation-states with three different political systems. That book never saw print, but a new publisher 15 years later agreed to take up the project when still no book about Lisu had been published. I proposed to update the original work with a new longitudinal angle. Thirty years after first meeting members of the Lisu community, I have finally published The Lisu: Far from the Ruler (University Press of ...

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