In many areas of rural China, pig feasts have long functioned as a vital ritual exchange among codependent farm households. Called sha nian zhu (roughly translated as “killing the year's pig”), the annual reciprocal feast has traditionally served to maintain community identities, provide aid, and strengthen social ties. Based on interviews with farm households in Zhenlai County in northern Jilin Province, we study the benefits that the annual pig feast provides communities. While some farmers believe this tradition will endure indefinitely, trends of urbanization and privatization—e.g., the peri-urban encroachment and confiscation of village land, the temporary and permanent migration of rural villagers to cities, the industrialization of pig production, and the year-round availability of meat—could lead to the transformation and marketization, or even abandonment, of this ancestral tradition.
The Transformation of Pig Feasts in Rural Northeast China
Ann Veeck is Professor of Marketing at Haworth College of Business, Western Michigan University. She has studied food marketing systems in China and other emerging markets for over 20 years. Her most recent projects include studies of the development of food consumption patterns in Chinese teenagers and a life course analysis of food-related practices of elderly Chinese. With Alvin C. Burns and Ronald F. Bush, she is the co-author of the text Marketing Research, eighth edition (Pearson, 2017).
Hongyan Yu is Professor of Marketing at the School of Business, Sun Yat-Sen University, China. His main research interests are market orientation, customer engagement, and food consumption behavior in China. His recent projects include customer experience, Chinese teenage food consumption, and the food practices of the elderly.
Gregory Veeck is Professor of Geography at Western Michigan University specializing in agriculture, food systems, and rural development in China and East Asia. His international research is conducted in Asia, and he has lived and worked in China for over seven years beginning with a first visit of seven months to Taiwan in 1985. With Clifton W. Pannell, Youqin Huang, and Shuming Bao, Dr. Veeck is the lead author of three editions of China's Geography: Globalization and the Dynamics of Political, Economic and Social Change (Rowman & Littlefield, 2016).
Ann Veeck, Hongyan Yu, Gregory Veeck; The Transformation of Pig Feasts in Rural Northeast China. Gastronomica 1 August 2017; 17 (3): 58–67. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/gfc.2017.17.3.58
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