This article looks at three contemporary novels where songs sung by rural women from the border region of northern Shaanxi Province evoke cultural and temporal hybridities, fusing social continuity with the threat and promise of change. The novels alternately portray untamed others—ranging from a Xiongnu soldier to a mountain bride to a country girl—as invasive threats and purveyors of potentially beneficial hybridities, adapting tropes of ethnic alterity to rethink the rural-urban divide and challenge both urban-centered and rural-centered discourses of progress. The wild brings vibrancy to the civilized, the center is drawn to the periphery, and the rural and urban are alternately desired and dismissed. In the end, these rural women's songs erase hierarchical notions of center and periphery and bring together alternative worldviews and visions of progress as only songs of the borderland can.

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