Community Security and Self-Defense

Robert J. Antony

in Unruly People

Published by Hong Kong University Press

Published in print December 2016 | ISBN: 9789888208951
Published online May 2017 | e-ISBN: 9789888390052 | DOI:
Community Security and Self-Defense

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Chapter 5 analyzes local self-regulation and law enforcement efforts. In conjunction with government, local communities also devised various methods for their own security and self-defense. Despite the state’s efforts and accomplishments in reaching down into local communities, the countryside was too vast and populous for state agents to penetrate everywhere. Normally the government preferred not to intervene directly in local affairs, but rather, to do so only indirectly through community lecture (xiangyue) and mutual surveillance (baojia) agents. Occasionally, in times of crises, the state would intervene more directly, such as in cases of famine relief and the suppression of riots and rebellions, but more routine security matters were normally left to each individual community. Rural towns and villages adopted a number of strategies for self-protection against bandits, including walls and other fortifications, guardsmen units, crop-watching associations, and militia. Nonetheless, I also argue that there was a complicated mix of activities in local communities involving both protection and predation.

Keywords: South China; Crime; Qing Dynasty; Guangdong; Poverty; Social dysfunction; Criminal law; Law enforcement; State; Local

Chapter.  9248 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Asian History

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