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Economy Lecture Series featuring Kristen Looney – Rural Development in China and East Asia

November 19, 2020 @ 4:00 pm - 6:00 pm

Read the transcript of the event here.
Speaker: Kristen Looney, Assistant Professor of Asian Studies and Government, Georgetown University
Moderator/Discussant: Meg Rithmire, F. Warren McFarlan Associate Professor of Business of Administration, Harvard Business School

This talk tackles the question of how countries achieve rural development and offers a new way of thinking about East Asia’s political economy that challenges the developmental state paradigm. Through a comparison of Taiwan (1950s–1970s), South Korea (1950s–1970s), and China (1980s–2000s), Kristen E. Looney shows that different types of development outcomes—improvements in agricultural production, rural living standards, and the village environment—were realized to different degrees, at different times, and in different ways. She argues that rural modernization campaigns, defined as policies demanding high levels of mobilization to effect dramatic change, played a central role in the region and that divergent development outcomes can be attributed to the interplay between campaigns and institutions. The analysis departs from common portrayals of the developmental state as wholly technocratic and demonstrates that rural development was not just a byproduct of industrialization. Looney’s research is based on several years of fieldwork in Asia and makes a unique contribution by systematically comparing China’s development experience with other countries. Relevant to political science, economic history, rural sociology, and Asian Studies, the research enriches our understanding of state-led development and agrarian change.

Kristen Looney is an assistant professor of Asian Studies and Government at Georgetown University, where she teaches courses on Chinese and Comparative Politics. Her research is on rural development and governance and has previously appeared in The China Quarterly, The China Journal, and Current History. She is the author of Mobilizing for Development: The Modernization of Rural East Asia (Cornell U. Press 2020). She holds a B.A. in Chinese Studies from Wellesley College and a Ph.D. in Government from Harvard University.

Part of the Economy Lecture Series

Presented Via Zoom Webinar


November 19, 2020
4:00 pm - 6:00 pm


Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies

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