An insider’s account of life in Gao village in Jiangxi province in China, the author of this text was born and brought up in the village, before leaving at the age of twenty one to study English at Xiamen University. He still returns annually to the village to visit his brother who continues to live there. The work covers a forty year period and can be divided up into four distinct themes: the village before and after land reform; the commune system; the dismantling of the communes; and the unfolding impact of the market economy – including growing migration to urban areas – from the late-1980s onwards. The author concludes that although the PRC has continually discriminated against rural residents, who are generically referred to as “peasants”, the radical policies implemented during the Cultural Revolution brought about visible improvements in education and health care.
Mobo C.F. Gao is senior lecturer in Modern Chinese Studies at the Department of Asian Languages and Studies, University of Tasmania.