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05.02.14

The ‘Nongmin’ Breakdown

SOHU BUSINESS, EG365 & more

Who are China's rural migrant workers?A uniquely Chinese social identity, the category of “rural migrant worker” is a product of China’s urban/rural dichotomy. It refers to a class of citizens no longer employed in the agricultural sector who nevertheless retain their legal status as nongmin (“peasants”).A rural migrant laborer leads an awkward existence. Though he works in the city, he is not an urban resident; though he has left the countryside, he cannot shed his legal identity as a “peasant.”{photo,...

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04.11.13

There Goes the Neighborhood

SUN YUNFAN & LEAH THOMPSON

When, in 1996, art historian Nancy Berliner purchased a late Qing dynasty merchants’ house from Huangcun, a village in Anhui province, it was just one ordinary house among thousands like it in the picturesque Huizhou region of China. It took Berliner seven years to oversee the meticulous process of dismantling and shipping the house, called Yin Yu Tang, and then re-erecting it at the Peabody Essex museum in Salem, Massachusetts. A decade has passed since it was opened to the American public in 2003. Now the crown jewel of the museum...

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01.23.13

Appalachia Comes to Anhui

LEAH THOMPSON

This past fall, my colleague Sun Yunfan and I were preparing to bring Coal+Ice, the documentary photography exhibition we produce for Asia Society, to rural Anhui Province to participate in the Yixian International Photography Festival. Upon hearing that Abigail Washburn, a...

12.17.12

Unlikely Harvest

LEAH THOMPSON

A little over month ago, I found myself traveling to rural Anhui province. Coal+Ice, the documentary photography exhibition I had produced for Asia Society, had been invited to exhibit at the Yixian International Photography Festival. Logistically, this exhibit proved a daunting...

05.11.12

From Protester to Village Head

ZHANG JIEPING

In September 2011, residents of the village of Wukan in Guangdong province began protesting the illegal seizure and sale of their land by local Party cadres. The protestors demanded fair compensation for the land that had been taken, but officials refused to grant it. Tensions...

04.18.12

What Wukan Means

OU NING

It began, in the early stages, as a secret mobilization. Then came the protests, marches of ever-larger numbers, direct confrontation, occupations, blockades, anarchy, media exposure, a case of accidental death, the involvement of higher levels of authority, negotiation … until, finally, after two years and eleven months, on the 2nd of February 2012, in Guangdong province, in the county of Lufeng, the village of Wukan at last held a democratic election.Given the evolution of events, what took place in Wukan could be called a...

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04.11.13

Moving House: Preserving Huizhou’s Vernacular...

LEAH THOMPSON & SUN YUNFAN

In 1996, art historian Nancy Berliner, working with the Peabody Essex Museum, purchased a vacant Qing dynasty merchant’s house from the Huizhou region of China and, piece by piece, moved it to the United States to be meticulously reconstructed at the museum in Massachusetts....