What can China help us understand the relationship between policing, law and governance? I argue that “nonconfrontational politics” is a defining element in shaping the political and legal experience of grassroots everyday Chinese. My dissertation project examines an approach to grassroot governance that is becoming increasingly common in the People’s Republic of China. Called the “Fengqiao Experiment” or “Fengqiao Experience” (Fengqiao Jingyan), this mode of governmentality centers a technology for managing local conflicts as a collaborative undertaking, bringing a spectrum of agents together – including community residents, mediators, government/party officials, judges, and police officers – to defuse everyday disputes and keeping neighborhoods in good order. Through 12 months of ethnographic and historical study of these practices in a mid-sized city in the PRC, I document the practical configuration of social governance organized around the “Fengqiao Jingyan” in Zhejiang province.
Lingxiao Zhou is a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. His research is at the intersections of policing, law, and East Asian studies. He is conducting his dissertation fieldwork in the Mainland China which is supported by a Graduate College Dissertation Travel Grant.