Publications Program

The Asia Center Publications Program is one of the world’s most widely respected publishers of scholarly books in East Asian Studies, publishing about 15 new titles per year. The program has published nearly 500 titles since its founding in the 1950s; it became part of the Asia Center in 1998. In the past decade, books published by the Asia Center have won more than a dozen major awards in their respective fields.

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List of Publications

Harvard Contemporary China Series

Beyond Regimes: China and India Compared

Elizabeth J. Perry and Prasenjit Duara
For many years, China and India have been powerfully shaped by both transnational and subnational circulatory forces. This edited volume explores these local and global influences as they play out in the contemporary era. The analysis focuses on four intersecting topics: labor relations; legal reform and rights protest; public goods provision; and transnational migration and investment. The eight substantive chapters and introduction share a common perspective in arguing that distinctions in regime type (“democracy” versus “dictatorship”) alone offer little insight into critical differences and similarities between these Asian giants in terms of either policies or performance. A wide variety of subnational and transnational actors, from municipal governments to international organizations, and from local NGO activists to a far-flung diaspora, have been—and will continue to be—decisive.The authors approach China and India through a strategy of “convergent comparison,” in which they investigate temporal and spatial parallels at various critical junctures, at various levels of the political system, and both inside and outside the territorial confines of the nation-state. The intensified globalization of recent decades only heightens the need to view state initiatives against such a wider canvas.

Red Legacies in China: Cultural Afterlives of the Communist Revolution

Jie Li and Enhua Zhang
What has contemporary China inherited from its revolutionary past? How do the realities and memories, aesthetics, and practices of the Mao era still reverberate in the post-Mao cultural landscape? The essays in this volume propose “red legacies” as a new critical framework from which to examine the profusion of cultural productions and afterlives of the communist revolution in order to understand China’s continuities and transformations from socialism to postsocialism. Organized into five parts—red foundations, red icons, red classics, red bodies, and red shadows—the book’s interdisciplinary contributions focus on visual and performing arts, literature and film, language and thought, architecture, museums, and memorials. Mediating at once unfulfilled ideals and unmourned ghosts across generations, red cultural legacies suggest both inheritance and debt, and can be mobilized to support as well as to critique the status quo.

Mao’s Invisible Hand: The Political Foundations of Adaptive Governance in China

Sebastian Heilmann and Elizabeth J. Perry
Observers have been predicting the demise of China’s political system since Mao Zedong’s death over thirty years ago. The Chinese Communist state, however, seems to have become increasingly adept at responding to challenges ranging from leadership succession and popular unrest to administrative reorganization, legal institutionalization, and global economic integration. What political techniques and procedures have Chinese policymakers employed to manage the unsettling impact of the fastest sustained economic expansion in world history?As the authors of these essays demonstrate, China’s political system allows for more diverse and flexible input than would be predicted from its formal structures. Many contemporary methods of governance have their roots in techniques of policy generation and implementation dating to the revolution and early PRC—techniques that emphasize continual experimentation. China’s long revolution had given rise to this guerrilla-style decisionmaking as a way of dealing creatively with pervasive uncertainty. Thus, even in a post-revolutionary PRC, the invisible hand of Chairman Mao—tamed, tweaked, and transformed—plays an important role in China’s adaptive governance.

One Country, Two Societies: Rural-Urban Inequality in Contemporary China

Martin King Whyte
This timely and important collection of original essays analyzes China’s foremost social cleavage: the rural–urban gap. It is now clear that the Chinese communist revolution, though professing dedication to an egalitarian society, in practice created a rural order akin to serfdom, in which 80 percent of the population was effectively bound to the land. China is still struggling with that legacy. The reforms of 1978 changed basic aspects of economic and social life in China’s villages and cities and altered the nature of the rural-urban relationship. But some important institutions and practices have changed only marginally or not at all, and China is still sharply divided into rural and urban castes with different rights and opportunities in life, resulting in growing social tensions. The contributors, many of whom conducted extensive fieldwork, examine the historical background of rural–urban relations; the size and trend in the income gap between rural and urban residents in recent years; aspects of inequality apart from income (access to education and medical care, the digital divide, housing quality and location); experiences of discrimination, particularly among urban migrants; and conceptual and policy debates in China regarding the status and treatment of rural residents and urban migrants.

Popular Protest in China

Kevin J. O'Brien
Do our ideas about social movements travel successfully beyond the democratic West? Unrest in China, from the dramatic events of 1989 to more recent stirrings, offers a rare opportunity to explore this question and to consider how popular contention unfolds in places where speech and assembly are tightly controlled. The contributors to this volume, all prominent scholars of Chinese politics and society, argue that ideas inspired by social movements elsewhere can help explain popular protest in China.Drawing on fieldwork in China, the authors consider topics as varied as student movements, protests by angry workers and taxi drivers, recruitment to Protestant house churches, cyberprotests, and anti-dam campaigns. Their work relies on familiar concepts—such as political opportunity, framing, and mobilizing structures—while interrogating the usefulness of these concepts in a country with a vastly different history of class and state formation than the capitalist West. The volume also speaks to “silences” in the study of contentious politics (for example, protest leadership, the role of grievances, and unconventional forms of organization), and shows that well-known concepts must at times be modified to square with the reality of an authoritarian, non-western state.

Grassroots Political Reform in Contemporary China

Elizabeth J. Perry and Merle Goldman
Observers often note the glaring contrast between China’s stunning economic progress and stalled political reforms. Although sustained growth in GNP has not brought democratization at the national level, this does not mean that the Chinese political system has remained unchanged. At the grassroots level, a number of important reforms have been implemented in the last two decades.This volume, written by scholars who have undertaken substantial fieldwork in China, explores a range of grassroots efforts—initiated by the state and society alike—intended to restrain arbitrary and corrupt official behavior and enhance the accountability of local authorities. Topics include village and township elections, fiscal reforms, legal aid, media supervision, informal associations, and popular protests. While the authors offer varying assessments of the larger significance of these developments, their case studies point to a more dynamic Chinese political system than is often acknowledged. When placed in historical context—as in the Introduction—we see that reforms in local governance are hardly a new feature of Chinese political statecraft and that the future of these experiments is anything but certain.

Changing Meanings of Citizenship in Modern China

Merle Goldman and Elizabeth J. Perry
This collection of essays addresses the meaning and practice of political citizenship in China over the past century, raising the question of whether reform initiatives in citizenship imply movement toward increased democratization.After slow but steady moves toward a new conception of citizenship before 1949, there was a nearly complete reversal during the Mao regime, with a gradual reemergence beginning in the Deng era of concerns with the political rights as well as the duties of citizens. The distinguished contributors to this volume address how citizenship has been understood in China from the late imperial era to the present day, the processes by which citizenship has been fostered or undermined, the influence of the government, the different development of citizenship in mainland China and Taiwan, and the prospects of strengthening citizens’ rights in contemporary China.Valuable for its century-long perspective and for placing the historical patterns of Chinese citizenship within the context of European and American experiences, Changing Meanings of Citizenship in Modern China investigates a critical issue for contemporary Chinese society.

The Paradox of China’s Post-Mao Reforms

Merle Goldman and Roderick MacFarquhar
China’s bold program of reforms launched in the late 1970s—the move to a market economy and the opening to the outside world—ended the political chaos and economic stagnation of the Cultural Revolution and sparked China’s unprecedented economic boom. Yet, while the reforms made possible a rising standard of living for the majority of China’s population, they came at the cost of a weakening central government, increasing inequalities, and fragmenting society.The essays of Barry Naughton; Joseph Fewsmith; Paul H. B. Godwin; Murray Scot Tanner; Lianjiang Li and Kevin J. O’Brien; Tianjian Shi; Martin King Whyte; Thomas P. Bernstein; Dorothy J. Solinger; David S. G. Goodman; Kristen Parris; Merle Goldman; Elizabeth J. Perry; and Richard Baum and Alexei Shevchenko analyze the contradictory impact of China’s economic reforms on its political system and social structure. They explore the changing patterns of the relationship between state and society that may have more profound significance for China than all the revolutionary movements that have convulsed it through most of the twentieth century.

Zouping in Transition: The Process of Reform in Rural North China

Andrew G. Walder
Zouping offers important general lessons for the study of China’s rural transformation. The authors in this volume, all participants in a unique field research project undertaken from 1988 to 1992, address questions that are far from simple and about which there is some controversy.The questions are grouped around two issues. The first is the role of local governments as economic actors. What is this role, how have they played it, and how can we explain their behavior? Have they dominated rural economies through public ownership of industry and local planning, or has the role of local governments diminished with the rise of market transactions and private ownership? The second issue is market reform and inequality. Have rural cadres enjoyed income advantages in the new market environment? Has the provision of such collective services as education and health care declined, leading to new forms of inequality?The chapters on the role of local government all point to a single conclusion: one cannot explain the rapid development of Zouping without reference to the role of local governments and of local government officials as economic actors. Scholarly writings about the “transitional economies” have often ignored or distorted this aspect of China’s reform experience. On the second issue, changes in inequality owing to market reform, the authors present mixed findings but contribute rich new data to the research on this issue.

Engendering China: Women, Culture, and the State

Gail Hershatter and Christina K. Gilmartin and Lisa Rofel and Tyrene White
This first significant collection of essays on women in China in more than two decades captures a pivotal moment in a cross-cultural—and interdisciplinary—dialogue. For the first time, the voices of China-based scholars are heard alongside scholars positioned in the United States. The distinguished contributors to this volume are of different generations, hold citizenship in different countries, and were trained in different disciplines, but all embrace the shared project of mapping gender in China and making power-laden relationships visible. The essays take up gender issues from a variety of disciplinary perspectives. Chapters focus on learned women in the eighteenth century, the changing status of contemporary village women, sexuality and reproduction, prostitution, women’s consciousness, women’s writing, the gendering of work, and images of women in contemporary Chinese fiction.Some of the liveliest disagreements over the usefulness of western feminist theory and scholarship on China take place between Chinese working in China and Chinese in temporary or longtime diaspora. Engendering China will appeal to a broad academic spectrum, including scholars of Asian studies, critical theory, feminist studies, cultural studies, and policy studies.

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