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English Language Works

Anagnost, Ann. “Strange Circulations: The Blood Economy in Rural China.” Economy and Society 35.4 (2006): 509-529.

Bramall, Chris. The Industrialization of Rural China. Oxford: Oxford Univerity Press, 2007.

Cao, Jinqing. China along the Yellow River: Reflections on Rural Society.. Translated by Nicky Harman and Huang Ruhua. London and New York: RoutledgeCurzon, 2005.

Day, Alexander. “The end of the peasant? New Rural Reconstruction in China,” boundary 2, 35.2 (Summer 2008): 49-73. (PDF)

Day, Alexander and Matthew A. Hale (eds.), Chinese Sociology and Anthropology issue on New Rural Reconstruction, 39.4 (Summer 2007).

Day, Alexander and Matthew A. Hale (eds.), Chinese Sociology and Anthropology issue on the Central China School of Rural Studies, 41.1 (Fall 2008).

Endicott, Stephen. Red Earth: Revolution in a Sichuan Village. New York: New Amsterdam Books, 1991.

Fei, Xiaotong. From the Soil: The Foundations of Chinese Society. Translated by Gary G. Hamilton and Wang Zheng. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1992.

Friedman, Edward, Paul G. Pickowicz and Mark Selden. Chinese Village, Socialist State. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1991.

William Hinton’s last book, Through a Glass Darkly: U.S. Views of the Chinese Revolution (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2006), was an extended critique of the influential Chinese Village, Socialist State. See reviews of Through a Glass Darkly by Robert Weil (“Were Revolutions in China Necessary?”) and Daniel Vukovich. - Husunzi

Gao, Mobo C. F.Gao Village: A Portrait of Rural Life in Modern China. Honolulu: University of Hawai’i Press, 1999.

Han, Dongping. The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village. New York: Monthly Review Press, 2008.

Hinton, William. Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1966.

One of the most important records of the Chinese revolution and an inspiring political narrative, this is a must read for understanding the practice and results of the revolution in China’s countryside. This book tells the story of land reform in the North China village of Longbow with great detail and understanding. — LangYan

Hinton, William. Shenfan: Continuing Revolution in a Chinese Village. New York: Random House, 1983.

Huang, Philip C. C. The Peasant Family and Social Change in North China.. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1985.

Huang, Philip C. C. The Peasant Family and Rural Development in the Yangzi Delta, 1350-1988. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1990.

Isett, Christopher M. State, Peasant, and Merchant in Qing Manchuria, 1644-1862. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006.

Jacka, Tamara. Women’s Work in Rural China: Change and Continuity in an Era of Reform. Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Liu, Chang. Peasants and Revolution in Rural China: Rural Political Change in the North China Plain and the Yangzi Delta, 1850-1949. New York: Routledge, 2007.

Liu Chang looks to the differences between north and south Chinese villages to explain the success of the CCP in rural organizing work in the north. — LangYan

Marks, Robert B. Rural Revolution in South China: Peasants and the Making of History in Haifeng County, 1570-1930. Madison: University of Wisconsin Press, 1984.

This book argues that from the late Ming until the end of the Qing the Chinese peasants of Haifeng developed a moral economy through which they understood right and wrong in the peasant world. This moral economy collapsed under imperialist pressure, leading to increased peasant action and finally its organization by the early communist revolutionary, Peng Pai. Marks notes Peng’s ability to organize the peasants of Haifeng by resonating his approach with the moral economy of the peasantry, and the later disconnect between the CCP’s goals and peasant radicalism in the late 1920s. — LangYan

Muldavin, Joshua S.S. “The Political Ecology of Agrarian Reform in China: The Case of Heilongjiang Province.” In Liberation Ecologies: Environgment, Development, Social Movements, edited by Richard Peet and Michael Watts. London: Routledge, 1996.

Potter, Sulamith Heins and Jack M. Potter. China’s Peasants: The Anthropology of a Revolution. Cambridge: University Press, 1990.

Prazniak, Roxann. Of Camel Kings and Other Things: Rural Rebels Against Modernity in Late Imperial China. Lanham: Rowman and Littlefield Publishers, 1999.

In an important revision of scholarship on late-Qing peasant rebellions, Prazniak argues that rural rebellions in the post-Boxer Qing world targeted the modernizing reforms of the Qing, which strengthened the local and country elite often against the interests of the peasantry. — LangYan

Ruf, Gregory A. Cadres and Kin: Making a Socialist Village in West China, 1921-1991. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998.

Shao, Jing. “Fluid Labor and Blood Money: The Economy of HIV/AIDS in Rural Central China,” Cultural Anthropology 21.4: 535-69.

Unger, Jonathan. The Transformation of Rural China. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2002.

Walker, Kathy Le Mons. Chinese Modernity and the Peasant Path: Semicolonialism in the North Yangzi Delta. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1999.

Yan, Hairong. “Spectralization of the Rural: Reinterpreting the Labor Mobility of Rural Young Women in the Post-Mao Era.” American Ethnologist 30.4 (2004): 478-596.




A pioneering work in the Chinese field of rural studies, inspiring the new generation of rural scholars. Re-introduced Fei Xiaotong’s anthropological approach to village studies. - Husunzi



Probably He Xuefeng’s most well-known book, and the one that helped to give the central China school of rural studies the name “xiangtupai.” Of course the title refers to Fei Xiaotong’s From the Soil (xiangtu zhongguo), and highlights He’s effort to follow in Fei’s footsteps to “make social science Chinese” and study rural China with “an awareness of China’s national conditions.” This book is actually a collection of fieldnotes on which his more sociological《乡村治理的社会基础》was based. - Husunzi


Probably He Xuefeng’s most important book yet, synthesizing theory developed through over a decade of fieldwork in dozens of villages throughout China by He and his team (known as the central China school of rural studies or xiangtupai). This is the only theoretical volume of the 2009 16-volume series of village studies edited by He Xuefeng, organized around the school’s key concept of “patterns of rural governance” (the others are mainly descriptive studies of single villages). This volume’s 90-page introduction brings together multiple threads of the school’s theory under the headings “regional variation of patterns of rural governance” and their relation to “the logics of peasant action.” The body provides nine examples of these patterns according to the broader regional categories of northern, southern, and central China. - Husunzi


One of the more interesting and carefully researched volumes of the 16-volume series of village studies edited by He Xuefeng, organized around the theme of “patterns of rural governance.” See an English translation of the author’s brief report extracted from the book, “Villager Teams on the Chengdu Plain.” - Husunzi


One of a few most influential books on Chinese left perspectives on the rural today - far beyond the few people who’ve actually read the book! More seem to have read Wen’s various summaries of the book’s argument - one of which was translated by CSG here, and another of which was translated here (pdf). For English discussions of the argument see Day, “The End of the Peasant?” (listed above) and Austin, “The Question of Land Privatization…” - Husunzi


Considered by many Chinese scholars - left & right - to be the most thorough study of a Mao-era “people’s commune,” in Zhejiang, with a focus on the commune’s functioning as an institution throughout its history. It was also a pioneering work in the Chinese field of rural studies, along with《当代浙北乡村的社会文化变迁》. - Husunzi

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