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Back on the water margin: the ethical fixes of sustainable water provisions in rural China

Pia, Andrea E. ORCID: 0000-0002-4061-7369 (2017) Back on the water margin: the ethical fixes of sustainable water provisions in rural China. Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute, 23 (1). 120 - 136. ISSN 1359-0987

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Identification Number: 10.1111/1467-9655.12547


The classical Chinese novel The water margin tells the story of a group of petty officials who take a collective stance against the widespread corruption and unfairness of imperial Chinese society. At the root of this story lies the deeply ethical conundrum of redressing injustice when unchecked power prevails. This article draws from this insight to explore some of the ethical dilemmas Chinese state bureaucrats in Yunnan face today when provisioning drinking water to rural communities. Yunnanese officials are burdened with these dilemmas by the state's conspicuous retreat from rural public services in favour of market‐based supply. Through their ethical interventions, Chinese bureaucrats are able to temporarily defer the collapsing of rural water provisions which is caused by the contradictions introduced by the marketization of water. However, such interventions may be followed by further damage to the environment.

Item Type: Article
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Additional Information: © 2017 Royal Anthropological Institute
Divisions: Anthropology
Subjects: G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GE Environmental Sciences
G Geography. Anthropology. Recreation > GF Human ecology. Anthropogeography
Date Deposited: 06 Jul 2016 11:37
Last Modified: 05 Jun 2024 18:57

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