2011 Joint Winner
by Julie Chu
Julie Chu,"Cosmologies of Credit: Transnational Mobility and the Politics of Destination in China." 2010 Duke Press.
Ken Guest (chair), Samuel Martinez, and Patty Kelly.
Julie Chu’s Cosmologies of Credit: Transnational Mobility and the Politics of Destination in China zeros in on the transformation of a southeast Chinese village as 70 percent of its residents migrate out—many illegally—to the United States and other destinations. The intense mobility and the steady stream of U.S. dollar remittances transform village life—from housing construction to village temple festivals to a reorientation of the local sense of possibility and ultimate destination. The exquisite details of local village life and conversation come alive through Chu’s brilliant, clever, and complex prose while the structures and artifacts of everyday life are interwoven with the macrostructure of global migration, economics, and patterns of circulation of people and things. Chu teases out the intersections of religion and economy in surprising and original ways. Cosmologies of Credit brings a needed correction to the anthropological record of Chinese rural populations, clearly demonstrating how local village life is deeply connected to global flows and processes even for Chinese who do not have the economic and class privileges of the Chinese immigrants we may be more familiar with in our American universities (whose families tend to hail from major cosmopolitan centers in Shanghai, Beijing, and Guangzhou).