Governing Educational Desire
Culture, Politics, and Schooling in China
Parents in China greatly value higher education for their children, but the intensity and effects of their desire to achieve this goal have largely gone unexamined—until now. Governing Educational Desire explores the cultural, political, and economic origins of Chinese desire for a college education as well as its vast consequences, which include household and national economic priorities, birthrates, ethnic relations, and patterns of governance.
Where does this desire come from? Andrew B. Kipnis approaches this question in four different ways. First, he investigates the role of local context by focusing on family and community dynamics in one Chinese county, Zouping. Then, he widens his scope to examine the provincial and national governmental policies that affect educational desire. Next, he explores how contemporary governing practices were shaped by the Confucian examination system, uncovering the historical forces at work in the present. Finally, he looks for the universal in the local, considering the ways aspects of educational desire in Zouping spread throughout China and beyond. In doing so, Kipnis provides not only an illuminating analysis of education in China but also a thought-provoking reflection on what educational desire can tell us about the relationship between culture and government.
Chapter 2. Educational Desire in Local Context
Chapter 3. Encompassing Educational Desire: National Policy in Zouping County
Chapter 4. Historicizing Educational Desire: Governing in the East Asian Tradition
Chapter 5. The Universal in the Local: Globalized and Globalizing Aspects of Educational Desire
Chapter 6. Conclusion
“Kipnis convincingly demonstrates how crucial education is for shaping the strategies, dreams, and desires of Chinese families. But the main contribution of this book is the way it manages to place this educational desire in a larger context of how China is governed and in a comparative framework that shows Chinese students’ feverish desire for education as part of a global phenomenon that cannot be reduced to Chinese, or even East Asian, cultural peculiarity.”
The Society for East Asian Anthropology: Francis L.K. Hsu Book Prize