At the Imperial Margins and Beyond: State, Territory, and Identity in the Late Qing Era

AHA Session 133
Saturday, January 8, 2011: 9:00 AM-11:00 AM
Grand Ballroom Salon C (Marriott Boston Copley Place)
Chair:
Tong Lam, University of Toronto
Comment:
Peter C. Perdue, Yale University

Session Abstract

This panel examines the shifting perceptions of nation and empire, state and sovereignty, territory and identity, represented in the changing relationships between late imperial China and its frontier regions and tributary states, such as Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, and Chos˘n Korea. The papers draw insight from the recent studies that transcend the binaries of the East and West, traditional and modern, colonized and colonizer, to explore the complexities and ambiguities underlying the transformation of the Qing from an expansive, multi-ethnic empire of non-Chinese origin to a modernizing nation seeking to nationalize its frontier regions and peoples through ideological construction and colonial practices. Tong Lam explores the simultaneously nationalist and colonial nature of the late Qing project of frontier recolonization, which effectively transformed its frontier population from privileged subjects in a hierarchically ordered empire into citizens of a new nation-based empire. Kirk Larsen analyzes the shifting conceptions of territory and identity in the Qing Empire and Chos˘n Kingdom and their impact upon the present-day dispute between Korea and China over the history of the ancient kingdom of Kogury˘/Gaogouli. Shuang Chen probes the state's changing perception of Manchuria from a central place of the Manchus to a part of national territory of China by examining the settlement and institutional establishment in Shuangcheng of northern Manchuria. Yi Wang examines the state-sponsored colonization campaign in Inner Mongolia in the early 1900s, which aimed at the economic integration and cultural assimilation of the nomadic Mongols into the Chinese nation, yet also resulted in social disintegration and ecological degradation in the frontier region. All show the complex relationships emerging within the borders of the empire and beyond that entailed multi-layered interactions and contestations among actors on the global, state, regional, and local levels.

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