Three “centuries”: the context and development of rural construction in China
PAN Jiaen, LUO Chia-Ling and WEN Tiejun
ABSTRACT If the shoe doesn’t fit, it is a mistake to change the foot, but in essence this is what occurred in twentieth century China, in the context of rural construction. Motivated by self-preservation, nationalist forces in China resisted the hasty, indiscriminate and harmful importation (indeed, imposition) of western influences, but these external influences ultimately predominated over traditional domestic practices. Radical ideologies evolved, destroying traditional construction methods while promoting ill-conceived, but ostensibly “modern” counterparts, or chaotic syntheses of old and new. Rural economies were devastated, to the despair of peasants. The internal response to external stimulus had become far more damaging, the cure its own fatal disease. Amid ongoing efforts at reconstruction, local committees were formed that varied in efficiency, and successive waves of rural construction featured a wide array of approaches, far more than merely “top down” or “bottom up (grassroots).” And yet, while conditions have improved, the symptoms of radical response persist. The proper cure should be context-dependent reform.
KEYWORDS: Rural construction, destruction, development, radicalism, China
PAN Jiaen 潘家恩is an associate professor at the Institute for Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences, Chongqing University.
LUO Chia-Ling 罗加铃 is a lecturer at the College of Economics (College of Strait Rural Development), Fujian Agriculture and Forestry University.
WEN Tiejun 温铁军is the executive director of the Institute of Rural Reconstruction of China, Southwest University.