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The Mirage of China


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Table of Contents


Chapter 1. Making up numbers


Chapter 2. The mentality of governance

  • The weight of numbers
  • The obesity of statistical yearbooks
  • The law for statistical work

Chapter 3. The facticity of social facts

  • A new life of facts
  • Socialism and statistics
  • Let facts speak for themselves


Chapter 4. Discipline and punish

  • Professor Dai and his statistical revolution
  • The colonization of social sciences


Chapter 6. The taming of chance

  • Change and chance
  • Land and luck
  • Fortune and fate

Chapter 7. Interiorization

  • Stories and memories (genealogy of history I)
  • Temporality and subjectivity (genealogy of history II)
  • Class and classification (genealogy of history III)

Chapter 8. Exteriorization

  • Epistemology I: Anti-humanism and narcissism
  • Epistemology II: Objectivity and corporeality
  • Epistemology III: Mass and massification


About the Author

Xin Liu is Professor of Anthropology at the University of California at Berkeley and Fellow of the Sociology Division, the E-Institutes of Shanghai Universities. He is the author of In One's Own Shadow (University of California Press, 2000) and The Otherness of Self (University of Michigan Press, 2002); and editor of New Reflections on Anthropological Studies of (greater) China (IEAS, UC Berkeley, 2004).


"The book as a piece of writing is fluid and graceful. Liu's ethnographic accounts are indeed masterly--deftly weaving dialogue, observation, metaphor, and analysis in a way that would make many writers (of both fiction and nonfiction) sigh with envy. Liu juxtaposes characters and incidents in such a way as to subtly highlight the themes at hand, using humor, irony, and understatement to bring to life the world of 'making up numbers.' Liu effectively suggests that the rise of statistics and the objective mode are, like the rise of Maoism and the ideological mode, a phase in history that may or may not appear equally ridiculous in years to come. Can we see outside our own spot in history, Liu asks, and should we (and the people of China) give up dreaming and utopias merely because our current historical moment favors the narcissistic, corporeal statistic?" * H-Ideas

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