Ghost Protocol

Development and Displacement in Global China

Ghost Protocol

Book Pages: 272 Illustrations: 15 photographs Published: August 2016

Anthropology > Cultural Anthropology, Asian Studies > East Asia, Cultural Studies

Even as China is central to the contemporary global economy, its socialist past continues to shape its capitalist present. This volume's contributors see contemporary China as haunted by the promises of capitalism, the institutional legacy of the Maoist regime, and the spirit of Marxist resistance. China's development does not result from historical imperatives or deliberate economic strategies, but from the effects of discrete practices the contributors call protocols, which stem from an overlapping mix of socialist and capitalist institutional strategies, political procedures, legal regulations, religious rituals, and everyday practices. Analyzing the process of urbanization and the ways marginalized communities and migrant workers are positioned in relation to the transforming social landscape, the contributors show how these protocols constitute the Chinese national imaginary while opening spaces for new emancipatory possibilities. Offering a nuanced theory of contemporary China's hybrid political economy, Ghost Protocol situates China's development at the juncture between the world as experienced and the world as imagined.

Contributors. Yomi Braester, Alexander Des Forges, Kabzung, Rachel Leng, Ralph A. Litzinger, Lisa Rofel, Carlos Rojas, Bryan Tilt, Robin Visser, Biao Xiang, Emily T. Yeh


"This book is an invaluable resource for students and scholars in anthropology, sociology, political science, and cultural studies, or for readers interested in post-socialism, China studies, and migration studies in general." — Fang Xu, Journal of International and Global Studies

"Ghost Protocol is an important volume that is grounded in solid research and that contributes provocative challenges to received wisdom and even to received counterwisdom." — Ellen R. Judd, American Ethnologist

“Given its multidisciplinary background, [Ghost Protocol] will not only appeal to scholars of Chinese studies, but researchers who wish to be have an informed take on the variety of substantive issues covered as well.” — Meisen Wong, Asian Journal of Social Science

Ghost Protocol is an important and engaging book that provides scholars in Chinese studies, anthropology, and geography interested in exploring the cultural and historical forces moving the Chinese economy and its participants today with the theoretically-sophisticated and meticulously-researched ethnographic work they need.” — Andrea Pia, China Review International

"The discrete chapters are well worth engaging for their rich empirical and theoretical contributions." — Andrew Mertha, The China Journal

"China offers itself as perhaps the most obvious case for critical neo-Marxian analysis on account of its peculiar socialist-capitalist hybridity. Highlighting this hybridity, the contributors provide us with a vivid, subtle, and reflexive framework to delve into several pressing issues about Chinese society, economy, and culture in the post-Reform era. With sophistication, elegance, and incisive conceptualization, Ghost Protocol never loses sight of the world's influence on China or China's growing influence on the world." — Angela Zito, coeditor of DV-Made China: Digital Subjects and Social Transformations After Independent Film

"Ghost Protocol treats Chinese development as a fluid and contested process and challenges simple and schematic views about contemporary China. Shedding light on confusing issues about China's socialist past and 'capitalist' future, it contributes to debates about transformations of socialism and capitalism. The book provides a compelling lens to examine socialism as societies and communities attempt to protect ordinary people from the destructive, fictive commodification of labor, land, and money." — Ban Wang, author of Illuminations from the Past: Trauma, Memory, and History in Modern China


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Author/Editor Bios Back to Top

Carlos Rojas is Professor of Chinese Cultural Studies; Gender, Sexuality, and Feminist Studies; and Arts of the Moving Image at Duke University. He is the author, editor, and translator of several books, most recently Homesickness: Culture, Contagion, and National Transformation in Modern China.

Ralph A. Litzinger is Associate Professor of Cultural Anthropology at Duke University and the author of Other Chinas: The Yao and the Politics of National Belonging, also published by Duke University Press.

Table of Contents Back to Top
Acknowledgments  vii

Introduction. Specters of Marx, Shades of Mao, and the Ghosts of Global Capital / Carlos Rojas  1

Part I. Urbanization

1. Traces of the Future: Beijing's Politics of Emergence / Yomi Braester  15

2. The Chinese Eco-City and Suburbanization Planning: Case Studies of Tongzhou, Lingang, and Dujiangyan / Robin Visser  36

3. Hegel's Portfolio: Real Estate and Consciousness in Contemporary Shanghai / Alexander Des Forges  62

Part II. Structural Reconfigurations

4. Dams, Displacement, and the Moral Economy in Southwest China / Bryan Tilt  87

5. Slaughter Renunciation in Tibetan Pastoral Areas: Buddhism, Neoliberalism, and the Ironies of Alternative Development / Kabzung and Emily T. Yeh / 109

6. "You've Got to Rely on Yourself . . . and the State!": A Structural Chasm in the Chinese Political Moral Order / Biao Xiang  131

7. Queer Reflections and Recursion in Homoerotic Bildungsroman / Rachel Leng  150

Part III. Migration and Shifting Identities

8. Temporal-Spatial Migration: Workers in Transnational Supply-Chain Factories / Lisa Rofel  167

9. Regimes of Exclusion and Inclusion: Migrant Labor, Education, and Contested Futurities / Ralph Litzinger  191

10. "I Am Great Leap Liu!": Circuits of Labor, Information, and Identity in Contemporary China / Carlos Rojas  205

References  225

Contributors  243

Index  247
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Additional InformationBack to Top
Paper ISBN: 978-0-8223-6193-0 / Cloth ISBN: 978-0-8223-6177-0
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