This chapter provides an introduction to the aim, theoretical approaches, main arguments, and contributions of the book. The aim of the research is to use an anthropological and historical approach to explore how the contestation among three major rural alignments—local governments, village communities, and rural households have transformed the structure of the current rural collective land ownership system in China. The author argues that the current land property regime in rural China is not a static system imposed by the state from above, but a hybrid resulting from the contestation among the above rural alignments. This research adds to the existing literature by shedding light on the roles played by rural settlements and rural households in shaping the parameters of the land property relations in rural China, and by revealing the continuing contestation among the rural alignments in agricultural production and the land market in the post-Mao reform period.
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