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Of Difference And Change

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Chapter Summary

Establishing local autonomy, identifying national minorities, and implementing land reform on China?s periphery in the early years of the People?s Republic of China (PRC) constituted important steps toward political integration, the scale of which was unprecedented. In the crucial period of transition, however, the state was constrained in what it was able to impose on societies. The two ethnically different communities - the Mosuo and the Han - present distinctive patterns of cultural practices that have grown out of local adaptation to the environment over a long historical period. The prevalence of variations - kinship, religion, and the way of living - underscores the effect of state policies that tolerate discrepancies between national norms and local practices. The administrative devices and the way the government operates at different levels show that state and society are in reality accommodating and mutually empowering, although they may constitute a dichotomy in conceptual terms.

Keywords: administrative devices; cultural practices; Han; kinship; Mosuo; People?s Republic of China (PRC); religion; state policies; way of living



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