China and world anthropology: A conversation on the legacy of Fei Xiaotong (1910–2005) (Respond to this article at


  • Gary Hamilton,

    1. Professor of Sociology and Associate Director, The Jackson School of International Studies, at the University of Washington. He is co-translator, with Wang Zheng, of Fei Xiaotong's Xiangtu zhingguo (1947), published in 1992 by the University of California Press as From the soil.
    Search for more papers by this author
  • Xiangqun Chang

    1. Senior Research Associate and Co-Director of the China in Comparative Perspective Network (CCPN) at the London School of Economics. She is also a special-term Professor at the Centre for Social and Cultural Anthropology, Fudan University, and Visiting Professor at the School of Humanities and Law, Northeastern University, China. She has conducted a longitudinal study in Kaixiangong village, where Fei Xiaotong conducted his fieldwork for Peasant life in China (1939).
    Search for more papers by this author


Fei Xiaotong (Fei Hsiao-Tung, 1910–2005) obtained his PhD under Bronislaw Malinowski's supervision at the London School of Economics in 1938. Of the 20 volumes of his completed works, two books are well-known in the West: Peasant life in China, published in English in 1939, and Xiangtu zhingguo (1947), translated as From the soil by Gary Hamilton and Zheng Wang in 1992. As one of China's finest sociologists and anthropologists, Fei was instrumental in laying a solid foundation for the development of sociological and anthropological studies in China, and his work helped to influence China's social and economic development. This is a translated, abridged and revised version of a conversation originally conducted in English, but published in Chinese to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Fei Xiaotong. Wu Zitong, the editor of China Reading Weekly, puts a series of questions to Gary Hamilton and Xiangqun Chang.