Ideologies of Change from Maoist Development to Market-Oriented Governmentality

  • Gillian G. Tan
Part of the Studies in Human Ecology and Adaptation book series (STHE, volume 10)


This chapter traces the historical shifts in Chinese state policies towards its pastoralist and minority populations in the grasslands, and identifies two consistent and interrelated themes throughout these shifts: namely, the view that nomadic pastoralists are “backward” and in need of change, and a belief in science-based progress or development to engineer social change. Shaped by these ideologies of change, the Chinese state intends to transform not only the material conditions of life for Tibetan nomadic pastoralists but also their behaviors and desires to fit within a model of an ideal governable subject (Bauer, Nomadic Peoples, 9(1&2), 53–81, 2005; Gaerrang, Nomadic Peoples, 19(2), 261–280, 2015; Yeh and Gaerrang, Area, 43(2), 165–172, 2011; Yeh, Geoforum, 40(5), 884–894, 2009a). By summarizing the different policies towards nomadic pastoralists of eastern Tibet (including the most recent settlement policies), this chapter shows that in order to fulfill this intention, the Chinese state predominantly focuses on providing material “improvements,” also referred to in this book as “products of change” (Dwyer and Minnegal, The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 16(3), 626–645, 2010).


Chinese state policies Settlement Enclosure Production intensity Governmentality Environmental degradation Backwardness 


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG, part of Springer Nature 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gillian G. Tan
    • 1
  1. 1.School of Humanities and Social SciencesDeakin UniversityGeelongAustralia

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