China underwent a dramatic social transformation in the last decade of the twentieth century. This powerful ethnographic study of one community focuses on the logic of everyday practice in post-reform rural China. Enriched with many vivid anecdotes describing life in the village of Zhaojiahe in northwestern China, In One's Own Shadow skillfully analyzes the changes and continuities marking the recent history of this region and highlights the broader implications for the way we understand Chinese modernity.
Liu's narrative provides a wonderfully evocative exploration of many domains of everyday life such as kinship and marriage traditions, food systems, ceremonial celebrations, social relations, and village politics. He brings to life many of the personalities and customs of Zhaojiahe as he presents the villagers' strategies to modernize in an environment of scarce resources and a discredited cultural heritage. This accessibly written ethnography will be an essential contribution to the anthropology of China.
Xin Liu is Assistant Professor of Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley.
"This study of a Shaanxi village offers a rare glimpse of the everyday politics and gritty struggles in interior Chinese communities, where despite a booming national economy there is still not enough to go around. Xin Liu has given us an unflinching yet sympathetic view of people trapped in a broad national transformation that is not of their own making. The characters and strategies that emerge from this study are important, troubling, unforgettable."—Judith Farquhar, author of Knowing Practice: The Clinical Encounter of Chinese Medicine