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Migration and Popular Resistance in Rural China: Wukan and Beyond

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  06 February 2017

Yao Lu*
Columbia University.
Wenjuan Zheng
CUNY Graduate Center.
Wei Wang
University of Southern California.
Email: (corresponding author).


This study draws on a case study of Wukan and interviews with migrants and peasants in other sites to examine how migration shapes popular resistance in migrant-sending communities (i.e. rural China). Findings demonstrate multidimensional roles played by migrants and returned migrants who act as a vehicle of informational and ideological transmission and at times directly participate in or even lead rural resistance in origin communities. Both the transmission and participation processes foster political consciousness and action orientations among peasants. The importance of migrants is exemplified in the Wukan protests but is also found in other settings under study. In general, migrants represent a latent political force that acts upon serious grievances back home. The findings provide a useful lens for understanding the diffusion of popular resistance and the linkage between urban and rural activism in China.


通过对乌坎事件的个案研究和对多个省市农民及农民工的访谈, 本文旨在探讨农民工对其流出地 (中国农村) 民众抗争的影响。通过研究发现农民工并非完全脱离其流出地, 而是在农村抗争中发挥了多重作用。他们向农村社区传递新信息和新观念, 有时返乡参与或领导村民抗争。农民工的传播和参与有助于提升农民的权利意识和政治参与。他们的作用在乌坎事件中尤为显著, 但并非局限于乌坎。总而言之, 农民工是一股不可忽视的潜在政治力量, 尤其当流出地出现土地纠纷等情况, 他们的作用即有可能被激发。本文提供了一个理解中国民众抗争的传播以及城市与农村抗争之间关联的视角。

Section on Rural China
Copyright © SOAS University of London 2017 

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