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Accepted Paper:

Voices from Naduo: Navigating the Waters of Modernization in Southwest China's Villages  
Qingyang Li (University of Aberdeen)

Paper short abstract:

This study aims to explore the concept of modernization as it is locally interpreted and practiced in China, focusing on the developmental inequalities faced by rural societies and how these territorial inequalities manifest in the lives of rural inhabitants.

Paper long abstract:

The ideology of rural-urban difference in China originated in the early 20th century, stemming from the cultural elite's attempts to modernize China as a means to resist Western colonial rule. Since then, the concept of modernization has permeated Chinese society, with cities being regarded as the advanced and civilized frontiers of industrial development, and villages as backward, feudal, and conservative static spaces. After the Chinese Communist Party came to power in 1949, the concept of modernization was continuously reinterpreted and implemented through rural collectivization and later socialist market economy. Despite these shifts, the deep-rooted disparities between urban and rural areas persisted. The emphasis on industrial growth and economic indicators continued to dominate the narrative of modernization. Nevertheless, the rural societies formed over a century were not completely obliterated during violent social movements. Instead, village life evolved into a tapestry where tradition and modernity are inextricably woven together.

This research is based on a five-year field study in Naduo Village, a village in Southwest China. While national policies contributed on improving infrastructure, local economics and education here, I want to give more attention to the village members who have not been voiced in the process of modernisation that they were forced to accept. This study brings local voices into discussions on modernization and development, particularly through the local’s narratives and life histories, to understand the greater struggles and dilemmas faced by vulnerable groups amidst the empowerment of modernization and the oppression of traditional society.

Panel P047
Living, leaving and undoing ‘left behindness’
  Session 2