Advice for Those Visiting Rural* China for Research

First, one should have name cards before one arrives. [Note though, while it was dire that I did not have any and this was quickly resolved, only one in every five officials have shared their name cards with us.]

Second, one should drink the tea but not eat the fruit until directed to do so. Interviews are conducted in inevitably the nicest room in whatever building the people you are interviewing happen to be located in. Often there will be tea and fruit on the table(s) in front of you.

Third, at a banquet in China, one should only drink when one is toasted or when one is toasting someone else. They might pour you a glass of (tasty if watery) beer that you think would taste great with the fried scorpion that you are eating (and you would be right!) but one should not waste any tolerance or goodwill on anything other than a shared drink.

Fourth, for future Zouping researchers, “toule” said when drinking has the same meaning as “ganbei,” that is, “finish it” or “your glass should be dry.”

* Zouping is urban in all dimensions but legal one; however, I have reason to believe that Zouping’s customs arose from rural habits, and thus this advice should remain useful for those traveling to genuinely rural areas and attempting to navigate local mores.

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