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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Sasha Welland
SISEA 490
Seattle Campus

Special Topics

Course content varies.

Class description

Ethnographies of Rural-Urban Encounter in China

Urban questions are rural questions--and vice versa. As cities around the world expand, social research today often embroils anthropologists in encounters between city and countryside. China serves as a particularly intense location to examine shifting conceptualizations of rural and urban social space. From the urban-rural movement of sent-down youth during the Cultural Revolution to the rural-urban migration of the floating population under market reform, Chinese officials and citizens have long negotiated social meanings associated with rural and urban experience. This course will explore the socio-cultural, political, economic, and environmental stakes involved in these encounters, while also addressing the question of ethnographic representation in relation to the village, the city, and the social spaces that lie between. Book-length ethnographies to be covered include Erik MuegglerÕs The Age of Wild Ghosts, Li ZhangÕs Strangers in the City, Liu XinÕs In OneÕs Own Shadow, and Tamara JackaÕs Rural Women in Urban China. The course will also encourage students to consider popular visual representations of rural/urban space through films screened in class and an international conference to be held at UW (April 28-30, 2006), ÒCinema at the CityÕs Edge: Film and Urban Space in East Asia.Ó

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The instructor will open each class with a short lecture to contextualize the readings for that meeting, often presenting related visual materials, and then guide participants into close examination of the readings with questions and topics for discussion in this seminar-style course. Attendance and active participation in class and EPost discussions by all students will be crucial to the success of our class meetings. You are expected to complete the readings by the day they are listed in the syllabus and to discuss them in depth. Over the course of the quarter, participants will develop topics of their own for the final paper.

Recommended preparation

Students should be at the upper-level undergraduate or graduate level, with some previous coursework in Sociocultural Anthropology or East Asian Studies and an active interest in the course topic. Critical thinking and clear expression of thought in discussion and writing will be stressed.

Class assignments and grading

Each participant will be expected to act as facilitator to one class during the semester and electronically post discussion questions in advance. Each week students will be asked to contribute at least one paragraph-length response to EPost questions. A short essay (4-5 pages) on a topic to be assigned one week in advance will serve as the midterm. A final 8-10 page paper is required.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Course Website (under construction)
Last Update by Sasha Welland
Date: 02/18/2006