Redefining the Market Town through Festivals in South China

  • Helen F. Siu
Part of the St Antony’s Series book series


In David Faure’s paper on Foshan town (zhen) during the Ming (Faure, 1990), one finds dynamic processes of culture making. The mercantile elite created vast territorial bases in the sands with the language of lineage, reinforced by their ‘literati’ pretensions. They successfully marginalized former leaders whose power bases centred on local temples and negotiated their emergent positions in the expanded late imperial state. Their shrewd manoeuvres gave the town a peculiar flavour — fluid social mobility and public contests juxtaposed with increasingly established notions about identity, status and authority. The town gained significance as an open arena where cultural meanings and political agendas were debated and reworked, transmitted, experienced — out of which emerged notions about agriculture and trade, village and town, popular society and state, lineage and ethnicity, merchant and literati. These notions were perceptions of differences based in fact on intense social interaction and fluidity in membership. Faure’s treatment of the town’s cultural dynamics is quite similar to that of Raymond Williams on emergent images of country and city in English literature whose authors experienced unprecedented social change. (Williams, 1973)


Pearl River Delta Town Centre Floral Display Market Town Exhibition Hall 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.


  1. Cohen, Myron (1993) ‘Cultural and Political Inventions in Modern China: the Case of the Chinese “Peasant”’, Daedalus 122:2: 151–70.Google Scholar
  2. Davis, Deborah (1995) ed. Urban Spaces in Contemporary China: the Potential for Autonomy and Community in Post-Mao China, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Google Scholar
  3. Faure, David (1990) ‘What Made Foshan a Town?’ Late Imperial China 11:2: 1–35.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  4. Faure, David and Helen F. Siu, eds (1995) Down to Earth: the Territorial Bond in South China, Standford: Stanford University Press.Google Scholar
  5. Jinri Xiaolan (Today’s Xiaolan) ed. Xiaolan Zhen Renmin Zhenfu, 1994, November, p. 42.Google Scholar
  6. Kelly, William (1986) ‘Rationality and Nostalgia: Cultural Dynamics of New Middle Class Japan’, American Ethnologist 13(4), 603–18.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  7. Kelly, William (1992) ‘Finding a place in Metropolitan Japan: Transpositions of Everyday Life’, in A. Gordon ed. Post War Japan as History, Berkeley: University of California Press.Google Scholar
  8. Siu, Helen (1989a) ‘Socialist Peddlers and Princes in a Chinese Market Town’, American Ethnologist 16:2: 195–212.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Siu, Helen (1989b) ‘Recycling Rituals: Politics and Popular Culture in Contemporary Rural China’, in Perry Link and Paul Pickowicz, Richard Madsen eds Unofficial China: Essays in Popular Culture and Thought in the People’s Republic, Boulder, Colorado: Westview, 121–137;Google Scholar
  10. Siu, Helen (1989c) Agents and Victims in South China: Accomplices in Rural Revolution, Yale University Press.Google Scholar
  11. Siu, Helen (1990) ‘The Politics of Migration in a Market Town’, in Deborah Davis and Ezra Vogel eds China on the Eve of Tiananmen, Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Press, 61–82.Google Scholar
  12. Siu, Helen (1993) ‘The Reconstitution of Dowry and Brideprice in South China’, in Deborah Davis and Stevan Harrell eds Chinese Families in the Post-Mao Era, Berkeley: University of California Press, 165–88.Google Scholar
  13. Siu, Helen (1995), ‘Community Festivals in South China: Economic Transformations and Cultural Improvisations’, Lo Chi-kin, Suzanne Pepper and Tsui Kai Yuen eds China Review, Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, pp. 1–17.Google Scholar
  14. Siu, Helen (1997) ‘Recycling Tradition: Culture, History, and Political Economy in the Chrysanthemum Festivals of South China’, in Sally Humphreys ed. Cultures of Scholarship, University of Michigan Press, 139–85.Google Scholar
  15. Skinner, G. William (1964, 1965) ‘Marketing and Social Structure in Rural China’, Journal of Asian Studies 24:1: 3–43, 2: 195–228, 3: 363–99.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Skinner, G. William (1971) ‘Chinese Peasant Communities: An Open and Shut Case’, Comparative Studies in Society and History 13:3: 270–81.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Whyte, Martin and William Parish (1984) Urban Life in Contemporary China, University of Chicago Press.Google Scholar
  18. Williams, Raymond (1973) The Country and the City, London: Chatto and Windus.Google Scholar
  19. Xiaolan Juhua Dahui Huikan (1994) Xiaolan: Xiaolan juhua dahui choubei weiyuanhui mishuchu No. 5, 23 October.Google Scholar
  20. Zhongshan Ping Sheng Bao (1994), Shiqi: Zhongshan Ping Sheng Baoshe, 18 November.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 2002

Authors and Affiliations

  • Helen F. Siu

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations