Cement or Excrement? Autonomous Ecological Thinking in Xiaoxi’s Poverty Discourse

  • Chih-yu Shih


Chapter 3 tells how cadres mediating between the state and the villagers might develop views or feelings of their own. In addition, villagers do not always accept the image of cultural backwardness passively. The notion of helping the poor ecologically has actually had some sense of local subjective feelings in ethnic Western Hunan. The villages are ready to take the state’s ecological turn seriously and to reevaluate their relationship with the environment and the state. In fact, the state and its ecological Helping-the-Poor programs together constitute an important part of the nascent identity in a Western Hunan township. This is not unlike the situation in Chapters 4 and 5 in which the state contributes positively to the evolution of self-consciousness in the local ethnic communities. Here, the contrast is also present in that the state is both an initiator of the change in self-consciousness and a convenient “other” to differentiate the local identity.


Forest Reserve Wealth Level City Dweller County Government National Reserve 
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  1. 1.
    See for example,-The Issue Research Team on Helping the Poor at the Academy of Chinese (Hainan) Reform and Development, The Governance Structure of Helping the Poor in China-([zhongguo fan pinkun zhili jiegou]) (Beijing: Chinese Economic Press, 1998); Zhang Li (ed.),-Facing Poverty: The Background of Educational Development in China’s Poor Areas ([miandui pinkun: zhongguo-pinkun diqu jiaoyu fazhan de Beijing]) (Nanning: Guanxi Education Press, 1998);Google Scholar
  2. The Chinese Communist Supervisor Office of Western Hunan Prefecture and The Office of Advancing Helping-the-Poor at the Most Difficult Stage of Western Hunan Prefecture (eds.),-The Great Melody of Advancing at the Most Difficult Stage ([gong jian zhuang ge]) (1996).Google Scholar
  3. 2.
    Wang Lichuan, “The Standing Committee of Political Bureau on How to Benefit the Disadvantaged People” ([zhengzhi ju chang hui taolun zhogu ruoshi zuqun]), United Daily (2002.12.13): 13.Google Scholar
  4. 9.
    For a similar conclusion from a different story, see Tang ZZ, Ching-Ping and Shui-Yan Tang, “Negotiated Autonomy: Transforming Self-governing Institutions for Local Common-Pool Resources in Two Tribal Villages in Taiwan,” Human Ecology 29, 1 (2001): 49–65.CrossRefGoogle Scholar

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© Chih-yu Shih 2007

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  • Chih-yu Shih

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