Joanna Chiu talks to Børge Bakken
In southern China, the rural town of Fang pulled itself out of poverty thanks to a simple scam. “Cake uncles” approached bakeries outside their hometown to deliver cakes, then faked the receipts and billed for more cakes than they actually sold.
According to Crime and the Chinese Dream, edited by a leading criminologist on China, Børge Bakken, cake uncles and other working class people have turned to illicit schemes in pursuit of the "Chinese Dream” – a modern fixation with economic success, intertwined with nationalism. The collection is a collaboration between Bakken and some of his former top doctoral students at the University of Hong Kong (HKU). (Bakken was Director of the Criminology Program at HKU from 2008 to 2013, and is currently a visiting fellow at the Department of Social and Political Change at Australian National University.) Researchers spent many months, in one case over a year, in mainland China conducting field work, immersed among the country’s most marginalized people.