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.

University of California Press

2001, ISBN 9780520226234