Dr. Huaiyin Li Receives Prestigious Book Award
Award given for Dr. Li's book, Village China Under Socialism and Reform: A Microhistory, 1948-2008
Posted: January 28, 2010
At the 27th annual conference of the Association for Third World Studies in Ghana, UT Associate Professor Huaiyin Li was presented with the 2009 Cecil B. Currey Book Award for his book, Village China Under Socialism and Reform: A Microhistory, 1948-2008. The Cecil B. Currey Book Award is a highly prestigious award presented to the author of the best book published in the area of Third World studies during an annual competitive round. Dr. Li's book was described as "a work of solid scholarship that contributes richly to our understanding of peasant life under socialism in China" and as "a well written [study that] gives deep insight to the local scene over a longer period of time than other similar village studies."
Based on the original documents from local agricultural collectives, newly accessible government archives, and the author’s fieldwork in Qin village of Jiangsu Province, Village China Under Socialism examines the experiences of Chinese villagers during the collective and reform periods. It offers a comprehensive account of rural life after the communist revolution, covering the villagers’ involvement in recurrent political campaigns since the 1950s, agricultural production under the collective system, family farming and non-agricultural economy in the reform era, and their everyday life in the family and the community. Using a micro-historical approach, this work investigates the behavior of the villagers as individuals and as a group in a discursive context in which their self interest and community norms interacted dynamically with the imposed systems and ideologies to motivate as well as constrain themselves. By scrutinizing the villagers’ various patterns of participation in local politics and diverse strategies in both team farming and the household economy, this study highlights the continuities in rural transformation between the Mao and post-Mao eras. It sees the recent developments in the village community as an outcome of ecological, social, and institutional changes that have persisted from the collective era rather than a radical break with the pre-reform patterns of production and sociopolitical practices.