Professor Charlene Makley
Office: 312 Vollum
Phone: 771-1112, ext. 7461
Office Hours: Tues, Thurs 4:30-6:00

Since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949, state leaders have struggled to chart a course to a Chinese modernity that would break with the perceived humiliations of European domination in the 19th century and bring China commensurate status in a newly configured world stage of nations. Since Deng Xiaoping's post-Mao reforms in the early 1980s, the PRC has been one of the fastest growing economies in the world. As such, especially since the PRC's entrance into the World Trade Organization in 2001, these meteoric socioeconomic changes have complex implications for the PRC's diverse 1.4 billion people, as well as for many communities abroad now impacted by the expanding reach of Chinese development efforts. To unpack this process, this course draws on anthropological theories of modernity, capitalism, globalization and development to turn a critical eye on discourses and practices of "development" (ch. fazhan) in the PRC.

Drawing on theoretical, historical and ethnographic writings, as well as on other media such as government policy papers, advertising and documentary films, we consider the contexts and contradictions of various development efforts just before, during and after the Maoist period, focusing especially on the post-Mao era of economic reforms. The PRC thus will serve as a case-study for our broader examination of theories conceptualizing the relationships among transregional capitalisms, changing forms of governance, and local communities' experiences.
prerequisite: anthro. 211 or permission of instructor

Course Goals:

  • To introduce you to the cultural, political and economic specificity and complexity of the People's Republic of China's "development" agendas and practices in historical and transnational context.
  • To introduce you to a critical economic anthropology and how those approaches can help rethink the nature and implications of transformational projects under the rubric of development in China and abroad.
  • To help you hone your understanding of theoretical approaches and debates surrounding development in China, and then to apply/critique them in your own analytic writing.