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Oil and WaterBeing Han in Xinjiang$
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Tom Cliff

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780226359939

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226360270.001.0001

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Legends and Aspirations of the Oil Elite

Legends and Aspirations of the Oil Elite

Chapter:
(p.100) Four Legends and Aspirations of the Oil Elite
Source:
Oil and Water
Author(s):

Tom Cliff

Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
DOI:10.7208/chicago/9780226360270.003.0005

Chapter 4 examines how the political economy of national memory affects the legends propagated and aspirations pursued by the Tarim Oilfield Company, and the way that people within the institution deploy these legends in the pursuit of their own aspirations. Daqing oilfield, in Northeast China, is a significant element of Tarim’s institutional genealogy. Daqing oilfield became a defining icon of Chinese self-strengthening nationalism during the Cultural Revolution. The Tarim Oilfield Company has now assumed the “legend of potential” once attributed to Daqing, but not all of Tarim’s elite permanent employees have access to this prospectively-oriented legend. Cohort analysis shows that even a small generational difference can result in vastly different life chances. Socio-structural positions formed on the battlefields, wheatfields, and oilfields of northern China since the middle of last century echo in the classrooms and boardrooms of the early 21st century. But structures are not straitjackets: the oil workers’ biographies also highlight their own agency, and the role of chance.

Keywords:   Tarim Oilfield Company, Daqing, national memory, legend of potential, aspirations, cohort analysis, life chances, structure, agency, chance

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