The Labour of Rural Transformation in China
In December 2018, the Chinese authorities commemorated the 40th anniversary of China’s reform and opening up. These four decades of unprecedented economic growth and transformation have been rooted in a fundamental socioeconomic restructuring. Contemporary China has changed from a largely agrarian society predominantly inhabited by peasants, to a rapidly urbanising one, characterised by a floating populace moving back and forth between rural and urban spaces, which are in a continuous state of flux. Going hand in hand with China’s ascent into modernity is the subordination of rural areas and people. While rural China has historically been a site of extraction and exploitation, in the post-reform period this has intensified, and rurality itself has become a problem. This issue of Made in China focuses on the labour that these attempts to restructure and reformulate rural China have entailed, and the ways in which they have transformed rural lives and communities.