Tracing China

A Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey

Helen F. Siu

Hong Kong University Press

Tracing China

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Pub Date: November 2016

ISBN: 9789888083732

560 Pages

Format: Hardcover

List Price: $75.00£62.95

Tracing China

A Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey

Helen F. Siu

Hong Kong University Press

Tracing China chronicles forty years of fieldwork. The journey began from exploring rural revolution and reconstitutions of community in South China; it spans decades of persistent rural-urban divide and eventually uncovers China's global reach and Hong Kong's cross-border dynamics. Siu traverses both physical and cultural landscapes, examines how political tumults transform into everyday lives, and fathoms the depths of human drama amid China's frenetic momentum toward modernity. She highlights complicity, portraying how villagers, urbanites, cadres, entrepreneurs, and intellectuals—laden with historical baggage—venture forward. The question is: Have they become victims of the circumstances created by their own actions?

The essays are woven together by key themes in historical anthropology—culture, history, power, place-making, and identity formation, informed by critical social theories, and characterized by a careful scrutiny of fieldwork encounters and archival texts. Stressing process and contingency, Siu argues that culture and society are constructed through human actions with nuanced meanings, moral imagination, and contested interests. She challenges the perception that social/political changes are merely linear historical progressions. Instead, she traces layers of the past in present realities.
[Helen Siu's] work shows a refreshing ability to use contemporary theory without falling for the fads and jargon that periodically sweep the field. For students of China, anthropology, and southeast China's history. . . . Highly recommended. Choice

About the Author

Helen F. Siu is professor of anthropology at Yale University and founding director of the Hong Kong Institute for the Humanities and Social Sciences at the University of Hong Kong.