China: reading guide

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Libcom.org's reading guide on China, China's history and the working class movement in the region.

A few sources in Chinese and other languages are listed at the bottom; the others are mainly limited to English. In the interest of space, we are not including articles, except the list of recommended articles on Libcom. Some books appear in more than one list.

1. Recommended blogs & articles on Libcom.org
2. Top books
3. Other websites (English & Chinese)
4. Documentary films
5. Fictional films
6. Books on modern Chinese history
7. Books on workers
8. Books on women
9. Books on rural China
10. Oral histories & memoirs
11. Fictional writing
12. Miscellaneous books

1. Recommended blogs & articles on Libcom

Nào (闹)
Blog about class struggle in China
* The poetry and brief life of a Foxconn worker: Xu Lizhi (1990-2014)
* Twenty-five years since the Tiananmen protests: Legacies of the student-worker divide
* The new strikes in China
* New foundations for struggle and solidarity: The culmination of development and privatization on a Guangzhou Island
* Black vs. Yellow: Class Antagonism and Hong Kong’s Umbrella Movement
* The student parliament: reflections on the Sunflower movement
* Four Years Later, Still a Graveyard of Chinese Youth

Chuǎng (闯) Journal #1: Dead Generations
* Sorghum & Steel: The Socialist Developmental Regime and the Forging of China
* Gleaning the Welfare Fields: Rural Struggles in China since 1959
* Revisiting the Wukan Uprising of 2011: An Interview with Zhuang Liehong
* No Way Forward, No Way Back: China in the Era of Riots
* The Future is Hidden within These Realities: Selected Translations from Factory Stories

Chuǎng (闯) Blog
History, capitalism and class struggle in China and its neighbors
* Working for Amazon in China, where the global giant is a dwarf
* Notes on a Factory Uprising in Yangon
* Aunties learning to fight: The 2015 Uniqlo strike in historical context
* Aristocratisation alongside enslavement: Railway restructuring & workers’ resistance in China since the 1980s
* Below the Winds: What Do the Island Disputes Really Mean to Vietnamese & Chinese Workers?
* Scenarios of the Coming Crisis: A Response to Aufheben’s “The Crisis: Afterword"
* Bicycle couriers in China’s own “logistics revolution”
* Women’s Day & the Feminist Five a year on
* Overcoming mythologies: An interview on the Chuang project
* The Guangdong Six and the rule of law (of value): Theses on the December 3 crackdown
* Comparing port strikes: Hong Kong vs. Shenzhen, 2013
* Should wives be shared or rationed?
* The capitalist transformation of rural China: Evidence from “Agrarian Change in Contemporary China”

Gongchao (工潮)
* Against the fetish of representation: class struggle in China beyond the leftist Grand Narrative
* 'I work beside my shit. I eat beside my shit': impressions from the dockworkers strike in Hong Kong
* Left dead-end street vs. destructive critique: China's counterinsurgency policies and how to respond
* 'We are no machines': workers' struggle in a Chinese electronics factory in Poland

Prol-Position / Wildcat
* China in crisis: reason to panic?
* Women Workers in China, 1949-2007
* China's migrant workers
* The generation of unhappy workers, 2007

Empire Logistics
"a collaborative initiative to research and articulate the infrastructure and ‘externalized costs'—human, economic, social and environmental—of the international goods movement industry..."
* Port trucker strike Ningbo, China

Spartacus Blog
"Monthly round-ups of news about the class struggle in East Asia."

Yiching Wu
* Cultural revolution at the margins: Chinese socialism in crisis
* Rethinking ‘Capitalist Restoration’ in China

Husunzi
* A Commune in Sichuan? Reflections on Endicott’s Red Earth
* The Battle for East Lake in Wuhan
* Homicide as a weapon of the weak in postsocialist China
* Notes on Class Struggle and Democracy in Hong Kong

Lance Carter
* Auto Industry Strikes in China
* A Chinese Alternative? Interpreting the Chinese New Left Politically

Ultra
* Swoosh
* Confusing History with Spectacle: A Critique of Bloom and Contend

Mouvement Communiste & KPK
* Workers' autonomy strikes in China

Aufheben
* Welcome to the Chinese Century?
* Class conflicts in the transformation of China

Eli Friedman
* China in Revolt

George Katsiaficas
* China's 1989 in a World of Uprisings

Tang Shui’en
* The Alternative Education of a Chinese Punk

Wang Shaoguang
* “New trends of thought” in the Cultural Revolution

Cajo Brendel
* Theses on the Chinese revolution

Peter Zarrow
* He Zhen and anarcha-feminism in China

Arif Dirlik
* Dimensions of Chinese Anarchism: An Interview

2. Most-recommended books about modern China in general
Top 5 - must-read
* Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, Third Edition. (New York: The Free Press, 1999) - on Google Books.
* Sheehan, Jackie. Chinese Workers: A New History. (London: Routledge, 1998) - on Libcom here.
* Wu, Yiching. The Cultural Revolution at the Margins: Chinese Socialism in Crisis. (Harvard University Press, 2014) - on Libcom here.
* Day, Alexander. The Peasant in Postsocialist China: History, Politics and Capitalism. (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
* Hershatter, Gail. Women in China’s Long Twentieth Century. (University of California Press, 2007)

Other top books in alphabetical order
* Anagnost, Ann. National Past-Times: Narrative, Representation, and Power in Modern China. (Duke University Press, 1997)
* Barlow, Tani. The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism. (Duke University Press, 2004)
* Dirlik, Arif. Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution. (University of California Press, 1991) - on Libcom here.
* Friedman, Eli. The Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China. (Cornell University Press, 2014)
* Gates, Hill. China's Motor: A Thousand Years of Petty Capitalism. (Cornell University Press, 1996)
* Hinton, William. Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village. (University of California Press, 1966)
* Hsing, You-tien. The Great Urban Transformation: Politics of Land and Property in China. (Oxford University Press, 2012)
* Hung, Ho-fung. China and the Transformation of Global Capitalism. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009)
* Lee, Ching Kwan. Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt. (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2007)
* Pun, Ngai. Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005)
* Rofel, Lisa. Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism. (UC Press, 1999)
* Zheng Tiantian. Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China (UMN Press, 2009)

3. Other recommended websites about China
With English content
Chuǎng (闯)
Gongchao (工潮)
China Study Group
China Labour Bulletin
LabourStart - China
China Dialogue
China Digital Times
Shanghaiist
Globalization Monitor
Asia Monitor Resource Center
SACOM
Engage Media

4. Documentary Films
* 24 City (2008)
* Beijing Besieged by Waste (2011)
* China Blue (2005)
* Demolition (2008)
* Disorder (2009)
* Gate of Heavenly Peace (1995)
* Ghost Town (2008)
* Last Train Home (2009)
* Meishi Street (2006)
* Out of Phoenix Bridge (1997)
* The Passion of the Mao (2006)
* Queer China, 'Comrade' China (2008)
* San Yuan Li (2003)
* Street Life (2006)
* West of the Tracks (2003)
* Women at the Wheel (2006)
* ?????? (1999)

5. Fictional films
* A Touch of Sin (2013)
* Beijing Bicycle (2001)
* Blind Shaft (2003)
* In the Heat of the Sun (1994)
* Platform (2000)
* Shower (1999)
* Still Life (2006)
* Unknown Pleasures (2002)
* The World (2004)
* ????? (2008)
* ????? (2014)

6. Recommended books on modern Chinese history in general
* Anagnost, Ann. National Past-Times: Narrative, Representation, and Power in Modern China. (Duke University Press, 1997)
* Andreas, Joel. Rise of the Red Engineers: The Cultural Revolution and the Origins of China's New Class. (Stanford University Press, 2009)
* Barlow, Tani. The Question of Women in Chinese Feminism. (Duke University Press, 2004)
* Day, Alexander. The Peasant in Postsocialist China: History, Politics and Capitalism. (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
* Dirlik, Arif. The Origins of Chinese Communism, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1989)
* Dirlik, Arif. Anarchism in the Chinese Revolution. (University of California Press, 1991) - on Libcom here.
* Dirlik, Arif and Ming Chan. Schools into Fields and Factories: Anarchists, the Guomindang, and the National Labor University in Shanghai, 1927-1932 (Duke University Press, 1991)
* Gates, Hill. China's Motor: A Thousand Years of Petty Capitalism. (Cornell University Press, 1996)
* Hart-Landsberg, Martin and Paul Burkett. China and Socialism: Market Reforms and Class Struggle. (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2010)
* Hung, Ho-fung. China and the Transformation of Global Capitalism. (Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 2009)
* Isaacs, Harold R. The Tragedy of the Chinese Revolution (1938, online here)
* Meisner, Maurice. Mao’s China and After: A History of the People’s Republic, Third Edition. (New York: The Free Press, 1999)
* Li Minqi. The Rise of China and the Demise of the Capitalist World-Economy. (Pluto Pres, 2008)
* Lin Chun. The Transformation of Chinese Socialism. (Duke University Press, 2006)
* Perry, Elizabeth. Shanghai on Strike Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labor (Stanford University Press, 1993)
* Perry, Elizabeth and Li Xun. Proletarian Power: Shanghai In The Cultural Revolution. (Boulder: Westview Press, 1997)
* Wang Chaohua, ed. One China, Many Paths. (Verso, 2003)
* Wang Hui. China's New Order. China's New Order: Society, Politics, and Economy in Transition. (Harvard University Press, 2003)
* Wang Hui. The End of Revolution: China and the Limits of Modernity (Verso, 2010)
* Weil, Robert. Red Cat, White Cat: China and the Contradictions of Market Socialism (Monthly Review Press, 1996)
* Wu, Yiching. The Cultural Revolution at the Margins: Chinese Socialism in Crisis. (Harvard University Press, 2014) - on Libcom here.
* Zarrow, Peter. Anarchism and Chinese Political Culture (Columbia University Press, 1990)
* Zhao Dingxin. The Power of Tiananmen: State-Society Relations and the 1989 Beijing Student Movement (University of Chicago Press, 2001)

7. Recommended books on Chinese Workers
* China, Anita, ed. China's Workers Under Assault: The Exploitation of Labor in a Globalizing Economy (M.E. Sharpe, 2001)
* Chan, Chris King-chi. The Challenge of Labour in China: Strikes and the Changing Labour Regime in Global Factories. (2010)
* Friedman, Eli. The Insurgency Trap: Labor Politics in Postsocialist China. (Cornell University Press, 2014)
* Lee, Ching Kwan. Gender and the South China Miracle: Two Worlds of Factory Women. (Berkeley, University of California Press, 1998)
* Lee, Ching Kwan. Against the Law: Labor Protests in China’s Rustbelt and Sunbelt. (Berkeley, University of California Press, 2007)
* Lee, Ching Kwan, ed. Working in China: Ethnographies of Labor and Workplace Transformation. (London: Routledge, 2006)
* Liu Jieyu. Gender and Work in Urban China. Women workers of the unlucky generation. (Taylor & Francis, 2007)
* Lü Xiaobo and Elizabeth Perry, eds. Danwei: The Changing Chinese Workplace in Historical and Comparative Perspectives (M.E. Sharpe, 1997)
* Perry, Elizabeth. Shanghai on Strike Shanghai on Strike: The Politics of Chinese Labor (Stanford University Press, 1993)
* Philion, Stephen E. Workers’ Democracy in China’s Transition from State Socialism. (New York: Taylor & Francis, 2008)
* Pun, Ngai. Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005)
* Rofel, Lisa. Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism. (UC Press, 1999)
* Sheehan, Jackie. Chinese Workers: A New History. (London: Routledge, 1998) - on Libcom here.
* Solinger, Dorothy. Contesting Citizenship in Urban China: Peasant Migrants, the State, and the Logic of the Market. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1999)
* Yan, Hairong. New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development, and Women Workers in China. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008)
* Zheng Tiantian. Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China (UMN Press, 2009)

8. Recommended books on women in China
* Barlow, Tani E. The Question of Woman in Chinese Feminism. (Duke University Press, 2004)
* Brownwell, Su­san and Jeffrey Wasserstrom, eds. Chinese Femininities, Chinese Masculinities: A Reader (University of California Press, 2002)
* Dai Jinhua. Cinema and Desire: Feminist Marxism and Cultural Politics in the Work of Dai Jinhua, eds. Jing Wang and Tani E. Barlow (Verso, 2002)
* Gilmartin, Christina Kelley. Engendering the Chinese Revolution: Radical Women, Communist Politics, and Mass Movements in the 1920s. (University of California Press, 1995)
* Gilmartin, Christina, Gail Hershatter, Lisa Rofel and Tyrene White. Engendering China: Women, Culture, and the State. (Harvard University Press, 1994)
* Hershatter, Gail. Women in China’s Long Twentieth Century. (University of California Press, 2007)
* Hershatter, Gail. The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past. (University of California Press, 2011)
* Honig, Emily and Gail Hershatter. Personal Voices: Chinese Women in the 1980s. (Stanford University Press, 1988)
* Liu Jieyu. Gender and Work in Urban China. Women workers of the unlucky generation. (Taylor & Francis, 2007)1
* Liu, Lydia H., Rebecca E. Karl, and Dorothy Ko. The Birth of Chinese Feminism: Essential Texts in Transnational Theory. (Columbia University Press, 2013)
* Pun, Ngai. Made in China: Women Factory Workers in a Global Workplace. (Durham: Duke University Press, 2005)
* Rofel, Lisa. Other Modernities: Gendered Yearnings in China after Socialism. (UC Press, 1999)
* Yan, Hairong. New Masters, New Servants: Migration, Development, and Women Workers in China. (Duke University Press, 2008)
* Xinran. The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices (Anchor, 2003)
* Zheng Tiantian. Red Lights: The Lives of Sex Workers in Postsocialist China (UMN Press, 2009)

9. Recommended books on rural China
* Bramall, Chris. The Industrialization of Rural China. (Oxford University Press, 2007)
* Cao, Jinqing. China along the Yellow River: Reflections on Rural Society. Translated by Nicky Harman and Huang Ruhua. (RoutledgeCurzon, 2005)
* Chan, Anita, Richard Madsen and Jonathan Unger. Chen Village: Revolution to Globalization (University of California Press, 2009)
* Chen Guidi and Wu Chuntao. Will the Boat Sink the Water?: The Life of China's Peasants. (HarperCollins, 2007)
* Day, Alexander F. The Peasant in Postsocialist China: History, Politics, and Capitalism. (Cambridge University Press, 2013)
* Endicott, Stephen. Red Earth: Revolution in a Sichuan Village. (New Amsterdam Books, 1991)2
* Gao, Mobo C. F. Gao Village: A Portrait of Rural Life in Modern China. (University of Hawai’i Press, 1999)
* Hale, Matthew A. Reconstructing the Rural: Peasant Organization in a Chinese Movement for Alternative Development. (University of Washington, 2013)
* Han, Dongping. The Unknown Cultural Revolution: Life and Change in a Chinese Village. (Monthly Review Press, 2008)
* Hershatter, Gail. The Gender of Memory: Rural Women and China’s Collective Past. (University of California Press, 2011)
* Hinton, William. Fanshen: A Documentary of Revolution in a Chinese Village. (University of California Press, 1966)
* Hinton, William. Shenfan: The Continuing Revolution in a Chinese Village. (Random House, 1983)
* Huang, Philip C. C. The Peasant Family and Social Change in North China. (Stanford University Press, 1985)
* Huang, Philip C. C. The Peasant Family and Rural Development in the Yangzi Delta, 1350-1988. (Stanford University Press, 1990)
* Manning, Kimberly Ens and Felix Wemheuer, eds. Eating Bitterness: New Perspectives on China's Great Leap Forward and Famine (UBC Press, 2012)
* Tsai, Lily. Accountability Without Democracy: Solidary Groups and Public Goods Provision in Rural China(Cambridge, 2007)
* Unger, Jonathan. The Transformation of Rural China. (M.E. Sharpe, 2002)
* Walker, Kathy Le Mons. Chinese Modernity and the Peasant Path: Semicolonialism in the North Yangzi Delta. (Stanford University Press, 1999)

10. Oral histories & memoirs
* Chun Sue. Beijing Doll. (Riverhead, 2004)
* Cunningham, Philip. Tiananmen Moon: Inside the Chinese Student Uprising of 1989 (Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, 2010)
* Gates, Hill. Looking for Chengdu: A Woman's Adventures in China (Cornell University Press, 1999)
* Hershatter, Gail and Emily Honig. Personal Voices: Chinese Women in the 1980s. (Stanford University Press, 1988)
* Hessler, Peter. River Town: Two Years on the Yangtze. (Harper, 2001)
* Liao Yiwu. The Corpse Walker - Real Life Stories: China From the Bottom Up. (Knopf Doubleday, 2009)
* Ma Yan and Pierre Haski. The Diary of Ma Yan: The Struggles and Hopes of a Chinese School Girl (HarperCollins, 2005)
* Rae Yang. Spider Eaters: A Memoir (University of California Press, 1997)
* Snow, Edgar. Red Star Over China. (Grove Press, 1968)
* Ye, Sang, Geremie Barme and Miriam Lang, eds. China Candid: The People on the People’s Republic. (Berkeley: University of California Press, 2001)
* Xinran. The Good Women of China: Hidden Voices (Anchor, 2003)
* Zhong Xueping, Zheng Wang, Bai Di, eds. Some of Us: Chinese Women Growing Up in the Mao Era.(Rutgers University Press, 2001)

11. Recommended Chinese fiction translated into English
* Ba Jin. Family.
* Ding Ling. I Myself Am a Woman: Selected Writings of Ding Ling (edited by Tani E. Barlow and Gary J. Bjorge, Beacon Press, 1989)
* Han Shaogang. 2005. A Dictionary of Maqiao.
* Lu Xun. The Real Story of Ah-Q and Other Tales (translated by Julia Lovell, Penguin Classics, 2010)
* Ma Jian. 2008. Beijing Coma.
* Mo Yan. 1995. The Garlic Ballads.
* Su Tong. Rice: A Novel (Harper, 1994)
* Wang Shuo. Please Don't Call Me Human.
* Wang Xiaobo. Wang in Love and Bondage: Three Novellas (SUNY Press, 2008)
* Yu Hua. 2007. Cries in the Drizzle.
* Zhang, Eileen...

12. Miscellaneous books
* Chan, Anita, ed. Walmart in China (ILR Press, 2011)
* Dikötter, Frank, Lars Laamann and Zhou Xun. Narcotic Culture: A History of Drugs in China (University of Chicago Press, 2005)
* Dutton, Michael. Streetlife China. (Cambridge, 1999)
* Gladney, Dru. Dislocating China: Muslims, Minorities, and Other Subaltern Subjects (University of Chicago Press, 2004)
* Harrell, Stevan. Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers. (University of Washington Press, 1994)
* Hsing, You-tien. The Great Urban Transformation: Politics of Land and Property in China. (Oxford University Press, 2012)
* Hsing, You-tien and Ching Kwan Lee, eds. Reclaiming Chinese Society: The New Social Activism. (Routledge, 2009)
* Jones, Andrew. Like a Knife: Ideology and Genre in Contemporary Chinese Popular Music. (University of Hawai'i Press, 1995)
* Lipman, Jonathn. Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China (University of Washington Press, 1998)
* Litzinger, Ralph. Other Chinas: The Yao and the Politics of National Belonging (Duke University Press, 2000)
* Mathews, Gordon. Ghetto at the Center of the World: Chungking Mansions, Hong Kong (Hong Kong University Press, 2011)
* Mertha, Andrew. China's Water Warriors: Citizen Action and Policy Change (Cornell University Press, 2010)
* Osburg, John. Anxious Wealth: Money and Morality Among China's New Rich (Stanford University Press, 2013)
* Qin Shao. Shanghai Gone: Domicide and Defiance in a Chinese Megacity (Rowman & Littlefield, 2013)
* Shapiro, Judith. China's Environmental Challenges (Polity Press, 2012)
* Yao Ching, ed. As Normal as Possible: Negotiating Sexuality and Gender in Mainland China and Hong Kong (Hong Kong University Press, 2010)
* Yeh, Emily T. Taming Tibet: Landscape Transformation and the Gift of Chinese Development (Cornell University Press, 2013)
* Zhang Li. Strangers in the City: Reconfigurations of Space, Power, and Social Networks Within China's Floating Population (Stanford University Press, 2002)

Expanded from Nao's recommended sources on China

  • 1. See Prol-position's discussion of this book here.
  • 2. See Husunzi's long critical review here.