The Chinese Peasant in Politics and Policy in Our Contemporary Global Moment
The Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska presents a talk by Alexander Day on the current conditions of the Chinese peasantry, the changing politics surrounding rural reform, and their relation to contemporary global economic situation.
Address: East Ballroom, Skutt Student Center , Omaha, Nebraska
Speaker: Dr. Alexander Day, Department of History, Wayne State University
Time: 11:30 am- 12:20 pm
In the past couple of years half the world’s population became urban for the first time—a world historical milestone and a time for reflection on the place of the peasant within modernity. This global urbanization process, however, has not been smooth, but fraught with violence and powerful social response—we cannot assume its teleology. Home to the world’s largest rural population, China is a key site to investigate this transformation and how people react to and understand it.
This talk looks at the current conditions of the Chinese peasantry, the changing politics surrounding rural reform, and their relation to contemporary global economic situation. To their chagrin, modernizers find that they cannot succeed without the peasantry. Some try to drag the peasantry along with them into modernity. Some try to rethink modernization itself, under the conditions of global capitalism, and see in the peasant problem and its solutions a path to a different modernity than one subjected to the sole criterion of economic efficiency. Both kinds of modernizers are troubled by the figure of the peasant—no longer a vestige of history, soon to be absorbed into citizenship or industrialization, the peasant is the project.
Dr. Day will first describe the rural reforms in China that began in the late 1970s and brought a return to household farming. Then he will discuss the stagnation in reform and crisis in the countryside from the mid-1990s on. This crisis stimulated both political debate (between the left, liberals, and neoliberals) and new policies from the state. He will mark out the different positions as well as describe the new state policies, arguing that this is a vital issue not just for the future of China’s peasantry, but also for reshaping the way China relates to the rest of the world.
Sponsor(s): Creighton University in Omaha, Nebraska