“Working the government” Poverty alleviation resettlement in two Yi villages, Sichuan, China
(2022) Geoforum, 136, pp. 153-160.
Resettlement studies in China and globally draw upon Michel Foucault’s description of governmentality, classing resettlement programmes as power-laden activities, in which planning practices reorganise the built environment and life arrangements and redefine the identities of relocated populations to achieve political and economic objectives. However, few studies on resettlement in China have conducted an in-depth analysis of local resistance to the tactics of governmentality. This article builds on the literature on the governmentality of resettlement and develops a theoretical framework of resistance to governmentality, “working the government”, by combining insights from Michel Foucault and Erving Goffman, applying the framework to empirical evidence. This is achieved through analysis of the micro-politics of power in poverty alleviation resettlement (PAR) programmes in two Yi villages in Leshan and Liangshan Prefectures, Sichuan Province, and close examination of innovative tactics of resistance developed by local Yi minorities. The study shows that resettled households re-utilised and took advantage of elements of the resettlement programme, adapted those elements to their new ends and separated themselves from the subjectivities imposed by the programmes. © 2022 Elsevier Ltd
China; Governmentality; Poverty alleviation; Resettlement; Resistance
planning practice, poverty alleviation, resettlement policy, state role; China, Leshan, Liangshan, Sichuan