Chapter 5: ‘May God Bless Our Injured Land...’
5. ‘May god bless our injured land . . .’1 A little after I first surveyed Beidaolaban, in August 2002, I was taken north onto the steppe to visit an old Mongol herder, Sang Jie, who lived in the village of Mandula. (Figure 5.1 locates the places referred to in this chapter.) Mandula is defined administratively as a village, but most people are herders, living in dispersed houses, 1.0–1.5 km apart, on rolling grassland. We spent a few days talking to a dozen families in the area about herding. When we left we drove east through Xisuqi county, where we dropped in on an old, widowed Han farmer for lunch. He was too poor to entertain us, but he did complain about news he had received about having to move off his land, go to a village 50 km away and raise a few cows. ‘How can I live off three cows?’ he asked. Ten km further on, a Mongol family were in their summer yurt: grandmother, mother, father and two young Source: revised from http://www.nmgch.gov.cn/smap.aspx?qid=4. Figure 5.1 Inner Mongolia: landscapes and places 125 M2819 - WEBBER TEXT.indd 125 20/12/2011 08:38 126 Making capitalism in rural China children. While the grandmother served milk tea, the father complained about a threatened ban on grazing on the grasslands. Sheep cannot live in pens, he argued; what did he know about raising dairy cattle anyway? A few weeks later I spent some days in the mountain range north of...
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