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Taking up the vexed and fraught relation between the local and the national, Cai examines in this chapter the ways in which the socialist national had to cope with and absorb local inflections and local strategies of narrative social existence. Rejecting any simple binary conflict between the local and the national, Cai demonstrates how the local was appropriated and also preserved by the national in narrative form throughout the Maoist revolutionary years. Far from erasing local specificity, the national, while remolding social relations, also drew on existing relations to embed itself firmly into the everyday narrative structures of local life in all their contradictions.

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