Power, Property and Governmentality in South China: The Case of the Wen (Man) Clan in Hong Kong and Shenzhen
33 Pages Posted: 18 Dec 2017
Date Written: December 18, 2017
Based on fieldwork in Shenzhen and Hong Kong, we approach the case of the Wen Clan in contemporary China in terms of the interaction between formal institutions of government and informal institutions of kinship and village. This reveals the multi-facetted nature of property rights on land, which do not only enable and regulate economic action, but also structure power relations in society and vis à vis the state. In this context, we build on recent research on the role of colonialism in creating ‘Chinese tradition’ in the New Territories, and establish similarities with the extension of state power in Mainland local society. We argue that property relations are an essential aspect of governmentality, and are embedded into broader cultural phenomena, especially religion. Thus, the resurgence of lineages in Guangdong cannot be interpreted simplistically as revival of tradition, but is a distinct phenomenon in the evolution of the modern Chinese nation state.
Keywords: Chinese Lineages, Hong Kong, Shenzhen, Governmentality, Land Ownership, Ancestral Cult, Urbanization, Urban Villages
JEL Classification: O17, P32, Z13
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