Since the Chinese Communists took control of Inner Mongolia, very little has been written about the region. This book is an attempt to redress the balance. It is a study of the effect of decades of social engineering on a Minority Nationality in China. David Sneath charts the recent history ofthe pastoral Mongolians of Inner Mongolia since they became the subjects of the Chinese Communist state, and examines the society that has emerged since the abolition of the Communes in the 1980s. He explores the history of local economic and political forms to illuminate the transformations andcontinuities of life in pastoral Mongolian society, and offers an account that includes both the swings of national and regional government policy and the experiences of individuals subject to those changes. By taking a historical perspective his study reveals underlying modes of symbolism, andnotions of domestic organization and paternalistic authority, that have remained fundamental to pastoralism in Inner Mongolia. It suggests an indigenous mechanism for economic inequality and dependency in pastoral society, one that has helped to shape the pastoral nomadic sociopolitical order of thepast.