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Tracing ChinaA Forty-Year Ethnographic Journey$
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Helen F. Siu

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9789888083732

Published to Hong Kong Scholarship Online: May 2017

DOI: 10.5790/hongkong/9789888083732.001.0001

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The Grounding of Cosmopolitans

The Grounding of Cosmopolitans

Merchants and Local Cultures in South China

Chapter:
(p.187) 10 The Grounding of Cosmopolitans
Source:
Tracing China
Author(s):

Helen F. Siu

Publisher:
Hong Kong University Press
DOI:10.5790/hongkong/9789888083732.003.0010

A new generation of local strongmen rose from the regional fringes. Their power was not culturally recognized, but they were able to accumulate vast assets at the expense of the town-based lineages. They sidestepped traditional arenas of negotiation by linking themselves directly to new regional military figures in a volatile network of patronage and intimidation. A different language of power prevailed over the cultural nexus that had been cultivated by the gentry-merchants for centuries. As rural communities were drawn into the personal orbit of territorial bosses, the authoritative presence of the imperial order became increasingly remote in the daily lives of the villagers.Militarists in Guangdong and elsewhere did take on various literati trappings and activities, such as building their own ancestral halls, patronizing schools, running for county government offices, and financing community rituals. However, these ritual efforts to gain legitimacy were diluted by the rapidly deepening crisis in the larger political order.

Keywords:   Rural-urban divide, China, Hong Kong, Anthropology, Social changes, Political changes, Identity formation, History, Culture, modernity

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