Sinologists have long agreed that many aspects of Chinese culture vary widely from region to region and even from valley to valley and town to town. The question for contemporary scholars is why and with what consequences. The problem we face is that while evidence from widely scattered communities is adequate to demonstrate the fact of regional diversity, it is not adequate to test hypotheses concerning its causes and consequences. What we need are detailed maps of the distribution and frequency of such practices as male adoption, uxorilocal marriage, cash bride-price, double burial, and foot binding. The only chance we have of discovering why Chinese culture varies is to see how that variation relates to the location of such likely causes as relations with non-Han peoples, the strength of state control, and the balance of forces in local modes of production.

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