‘iClan’: The Chinese Ritual Economy in the 21st Century
31 Pages Posted: 22 Apr 2018
Date Written: April 22, 2018
In recent debates about the nature and dynamics of Shenzhen development, many observers notice the resilience of urban villages in new metamorphoses. One core phenomenon is the revival of traditional kinship structures, the lineages. Lineages have become important actors in the urban economy, via real estate, rooted in the original ownership of rural land rights, and being networked into other sectors, such as services. In this working paper, we explore the implications for the study of Chinese kinship and kinship ritual in general, based on one case study, the Huang in the original single-lineage Xiasha and Shangsha villages. One important aspect is the internationalization of kinship organization, which was emphasized also in earlier studies on the metamorphoses of traditional kinship, based on research in Hong Kong (James Watson, Selina Chan and others). Today, this includes the virtual space of the internet. Based on this case, we analyse modern Chinese kinship in terms of the concepts of ‘cultural descent’ and ‘nested descent’ and we argue that this were also characteristics of the traditional ‘ritual economy’ in Late Imperial times. Hence, in this view the conventional narrative of a transition from tradition towards modernity needs thorough reconsideration, with many implications for improving our understanding of the Shenzhen phenomenon.
Keywords: Chinese Kinship, Lineages, Shenzhen, Cultural Descent, Huang, Ritual Economy
JEL Classification: Z13
Suggested Citation: Suggested Citation