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Endorsing the Exodus: How Local Leaders Backed Peasant Migrations in 1980s Sichuan
Journal of Contemporary China (2009)
  • Erik Mobrand, National University of singapore

Discussions of migration in contemporary China often center on the distinctive institutions, especially household registration (hukou) regulations, which continue to limit the options of rural people in cities. This paper draws attention to how another part of the Chinese state has engaged migration: governments in communities of origin. Evidence from Sichuan in the 1980s reveals that local leaders authorized, facilitated, and even organized out-migration of villagers, at a time when Beijing gave scant indication of official approval of peasant migration. Local innovations to sanction migration built directly on the broader trend of rural cadres becoming increasingly responsive to local economic needs. The story of local government involvement in out-migration indicates that the relationship between migrants and the Chinese state has transformed fundamentally, even though formal institutions governing urban residence have changed minimally. As in other fields of social and economic life in China, authority over migration has fragmented.

Publication Date
January, 2009
Citation Information
Erik Mobrand. "Endorsing the Exodus: How Local Leaders Backed Peasant Migrations in 1980s Sichuan" Journal of Contemporary China (2009)
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