Xuanwei, a county-level municipality (xianji shi) located in the northeastern corner of Yunnan province, has nothing remarkable to boast. It is, of course, one of the largest counties in China and “home of the Yunnan ham.” Xuanwei is even the native place of Zhuo Lin, wife of the late Deng Xiaoping. Such trivia apart, Xuanwei's vital statistics read as a microcosm of interior China that moreover cover a wide variety of ecological and socioeconomic regimes. For mainly this reason, Stig Thøgersen of Aarhus University and I decided in 1998 that Xuanwei's unremarkable status made it the ideal rural inland fieldwork site that we sought for European researchers.

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