ANT 265: Contemporary Chinese Society and Culture
Spring Term, 2005: Monday, Wednesday, Friday 12:30 am - 1:20 pm, Chambers 1027
Office Hours: M, W, F 9:30-10:20 am;
T, Th 10:00-11:15 am or by appointment
This seminar examines Chinese society from the "bottom up," with an emphasis on the structure of everyday life. The first part deals with pre-revolutionary (non-communist) Chinese society. Topics include marriage and adoption strategies, concubinage, inheritance patterns, gender roles, lineage organization, and life crisis rituals. The second part focuses on post-revolutionary society and Maoist attempts to construct a new culture. Topics include land reform and collectivization, marriage, women's liberation, changing family organization, anti-superstition campaigns, population control, and the impact of post-Mao reforms. The third part will be topical: looking at two social institutions in contemporary China (popular religion and lineages) that have been transformed through historical experiences.
Contemporary China will be studied from the anthropological perspective -- largely a "bottom-up," comparative examination of particular social processes that is presented in the form of ethnographic monographs and articles that describe everyday life in detail. Our emphasis will be on understanding how Chinese traditions and culture have shaped Chinese society today. What is uniquely Chinese in Chinese culture? How have over three thousand years of history and tradition and its recent emergence out of Maoist socialism shaped everyday life in China? How do social units like the family or practices such as life-cycle rituals give structure to Chinese society? What will China be like in the 21st century?
Lecture notes (pdf format) can be found on the schedule.