Bibliography: Erik Mueggler


The Age of Wild Ghosts

Memory, Violence, and Place in Southwest China


Abstract: In this ethnography, a rural minority community in the mountains of south-west China struggles to find its place at the end of a century of violence and at the margins of a nation-state. Here, people describes the present age, beginning with the Great Lea Famine of 1958-1960 and continuing through the1990s, as "the age of wild ghosts". Their stories of this age converge on a dream of community - a bad dream, embodied in the life, death, and reawakening of a single institution: a rotating headman-ship system that expired violently under the Maoist regime. Displaying a sensitive understanding of both Chinese and the Tibeto-Burman language spoken in this region, the author explores memories of this institution, including the rituals and poetics that once surrounded it and the bitter conflicts that now haunt it.