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Issue 58 (July 2007)
David J. Davies
Wal-Mao: The Discipline of Corporate Culture and Studying Success at Wal-Mart China
This essay examines the corporate culture of the Wal-Mart Corporation and its localization in China. An analysis of ethnographic data collected at Chinese Wal-Mart stores illustrates how its corporate culture finds historical continuity with the organizational culture of the "work unit" (danwei) system as a total way of life that imagines order, asserts morality, disciplines behavior and unites culture with modern production. In the case examined in this essay, the private corporation carries on the lineage of "culture" as a foundational category for thinking about modern social transformation-as means to "study success" (chenggongxue) and enhance individual "quality" (suzhi) for competition in the market economy.
Subways as a Space of Cultural Intimacy: The Mass Rapid Transit Systems in Taipei, Taiwan
This article sees Taipei's newly inaugurated Mass Rapid Transit System as a space of cultural intimacy wherein Taipei City residents (re)shape their collective identity against Taiwan's recent political history as well as within the current global economic context. Temporally, the knowledge derived from the shared sentiment of cultural intimacy helped people in Taipei to construct a present self that is civilized and enlightened, separating from their politically repressive and unruly past. Spatially, as Taiwan is increasingly integrated into the global system and highly receptive to changes in the world economy, the Taipei residents' new self-identity also takes on new significance. The timing of the completion of the MRT coincided with Taiwan's recent economic restructuring on the one hand and the emergence of global cities as the main site of global economic competition on the other. Behaving in an orderly way as well as keeping a positive image of the MRT, therefore, resonates with Taipei residents' efforts and desire to keep their city economically competitive. The contrast between the refined manners of Taipei's daily commuters and the recurring misdemeanors of out-of-town visitors on the MRT seems only to confirm the growing discrepancy between a globalizing Taipei and Taiwan's deindustrialized hinterland that is gradually lagging behind. Yet, the anxiety seeping through some of the self-deprecating comments I heard during the course of my research clearly indicates the precarious nature of the current global economic system and the resulting challenges faced, and uncertainties felt, by the Taiwanese people including those in Taipei.
From Resistance to Adaptation: Uyghur Popular Music and Changing Attitudes among Uyghur Youth
The rise of ethnic nationalism among the Uyghurs in Xinjiang during the 1990s has led the Chinese government to adopt a unique strategy that combines harsh political repression with massive economic development in attempt to stabilize the region. However, the extent to which this strategy has affected Uyghur nationalism remains unclear, in large part because of severe restrictions imposed on scholars who do research on this region and the fact that Uyghurs in Xinjiang are afraid to speak out. Arguing that popular music can be used as a barometer for popular sentiments which can help bypass some of these methodological difficulties, this study looks at Uyghur popular music to explore attitudes among Uyghur youth, a social group that has been most closely associated with separatist ideology since the late 1980s. Focusing on the creative work of two famous Uyghur pop musicians who represent two contrasting worldviews, and their reception by Uyghur university students and urban youth, the article concludes that ethnic resistance among this social group has been on the decline in recent years and has been gradually replaced by pragmatic adaptation. I also conclude that the government's manipulation of Uyghur popular music constitutes an important part of its effort to influence the attitudes of Uyghur youth and bring stability to Xinjiang.
Depoliticizing Tobacco's Exceptionality: Male Sociality, Death and Memory-Making among Chinese Cigarette Smokers
In contemporary China, health experts inform us, lung cancer kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS or any other type of cancer, yet an arresting passivity exists among those it harms most often-male tobacco smokers and their families. Extending social theory on mass death, this article discusses three socio-historical forces that give rise to this. First, residents of the PRC have come to encounter a paradoxical situation all too common in the world: government authorities that rely, on the one hand, on a politics of protecting the nation's health, and that profiteer, on the other, off a commodity, the cigarette, which is highly addictive, modestly priced and acutely toxic. Second, owing to subtle historical processes fusing cigarette-smoking, life enhancement and male sociality, many men have come to feel a deep need to consume tobacco. Third, after lung cancer diagnosis occurs, the legibility of hostility toward tobacco producers is muddled by memory-making, particularly regarding the sick man's past years exchanging cigarettes with other men.