Heilongjiang and Xinjiang. This project documents now-retired jiashugong or “dependent workers,” the family members of full state employees attached to one of the large work unit systems that organised society, labour, politics, and personal identity for the majority of Chinese urban employees throughout the socialist era and well into reform.
These people, overwhelmingly women and now aged between 65 and 95, made an immense contribution to the state projects of frontier occupation, development, and industrial production, yet the state has only recently partially-recognised this debt.
Many of the women who sought a livelihood and a future in the far Northeast and far Northwest in the first two decades of the Socialist era (1950–1970) have already passed away. Only the strong ones have lived this long.