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Accepted Paper:

Persistence and Creativity: Recounting grassroots humanitarianism in late socialist China  
Jiazhi Fengjiang (University of Edinburgh)

Paper short abstract:

This paper explores how "persistence" and "creativity" become the key idioms for ordinary people in China to enact their "moral labor" in pursuit of their humanitarian projects

Paper long abstract:

The past two decades witness the tremendous growth of grassroots philanthropic and humanitarian projects in China. This paper explores how ordinary people are experimenting with creative ways to "persist" in their efforts and struggles to bring gongyi (literally means common good) into being. Unlike better-off and wealthy philanthropists and volunteers, whose philanthropic activities tend to enhance their status and dominance, the ordinary people presented in this paper experience major tension between providing for their family and caring for others in society, between ensuring the material conditions of the good life and being able to live ethical lives as contributing members of society and being socially recognised for doing so. Hence, pursuing such gongyi objectives can require extremely hard work and be emotionally draining for many ordinary people. Philanthropic and humanitarian engagement does not lead to substantial and sustainable material returns, yet the creative imaginations and public actions of ordinary people open up possibilities for valorising life in social arenas despite and within the prevailing economic valorisation of life.

Panel P174a
Moral Labor in Humanitarian Projects [Anthropology of Humanitarianism Network (AHN)]
  Session 1 Tuesday 26 July, 2022, -