Global to Village| The Political Economy and Cultural Politics of Rural Nostalgia in Xi-Era China: The Case of Heyang Village

Linda Qian


This article offers a new theoretical framework to understand nostalgia as a political-economic and a cultural-political discourse in China. Introducing nostalgia as a “structure of feeling” in postreform China, the article analyzes its elevation as a new trope to address the economic and cultural contradictions of capitalistic global integration in the wake of the 2008 global financial crisis. It then traces the trickling down of nostalgia, from its initial invocation by Xi Jinping to its ideological propagation in major state-media productions and, finally, down to its appropriation and mobilization at the county and village levels. Finally, in grounding the research in Heyang Village, Zhejiang Province, the study demonstrates how, within this discourse of development with “nostalgia in mind,” a contentious enterprise of nostalgic tourism has figured as the centerpiece for rural development plans; Heyang’s future is now entangled in a contextually specific enterprise of the economy of nostalgia.


Chinese development, cultural heritage, nostalgia, rural tourism, Heyang

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