Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers

Edited by Stevan Harrell

  • Published: 1995
  • Subject Listing: Asian StudiesAnthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 388 pp.
  • Territorial rights: Not Avail Brit Commwlth And Uk
  • Series: Studies on Ethnic Groups in China
  • Contents

China's exploitation by Western imperialism is well known, but the imperialist treatment within China of ethnic minorities has been little explored. Around the geographic periphery of China, as well as some of the less accessible parts of the interior, and even in its cities, live a variety of peoples of different origins, languages, ecological adaptations, and cultures. These people have interacted for centuries with the Han Chinese majority, with other minority ethnic groups (minzu), and with non-Chinese, but identification of distinct groups and analysis of their history and relationship to others still are problematic.

Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers provides rich material for the comparative study of colonialism and imperialism and for the study of Chinese nation-building. It represents some of the first scholarship on ethnic minorities in China based on direct research since before World War II. This, combined with increasing awareness in the West of the importance of ethnic relations, makes it an especially timely book. It will be of interest to anthopologists, historians, and political scientists, as well as to sinologists.
Stevan Harrell is professor of anthropology at the University of Washington. Other contributors are Wurlig Borchigud, Siu-woo Cheung, Norma Diamond, Shih-chung Hsieh, Almaz Khan, Ralph A. Litzinger, Charles F. McKhann, Shelley Rigger, and Margaret Byrne Swain.
Introduction: Civilizing Projects and the Reaction to them

Part One The Historiography of Ethnic Identity: Scholarly and Official Discourses
1. The Naxi and the Nationalities Question
2. The History of the History of the Yi
3. Defining the Miao
4. Making Histories
5. Pere Vial and the Gni-P'a: Orientalist Scholarship and the Christian Project
6. Voices of Manchu Identity, 1635-1935

Part Two The History of Ethnic Identity: The Process of Peoples
1. Millenarianism, Christian Movements, and Ethnic Change Among the Miao in Southwest China
2. Chinggis Khan: From Imperial Ancestor to Ethnic Hero
3. The Impact of Urban Ethnic Education on Modern Mognolian Ethnicity, 1940-1966
4. On the Dynamics of Tai/Dai-Lue Ethnicity: An Ethnohistorical Analysis


"The relations between China's dominant Han majority and the numerous smaller peoples who inhabit the broad periphery of China's territory have often been disputatious. This absolutely first-rate collection of scholarly essays by nine anthropologists and one political scientist focuses on the problem of ethnic definition and self-definition among China's peripheral peoples, including the Naxi, Yi, Miao, Mongols, and Manchus. . . . Rejecting the usual catalog of static characteristics as the way to define a people, the authors see national definition as a contentious and negotiated process resulting in a fluid and evolving set of behaviors, customs, linguistic usage, etc. At the core of this process lie Han attempts to impose their values on others in the name of civilization and the struggle of peripheral peoples to resist, adapt, and survive. An important book for students of Chinese society."
-Library Journal

"Excellent essays . . . on the cultural and social impact of Han colonialism, . . . focusing on the heightened sense of ethnic difference that has emerged in the process and on the invention of ethnic identities that involve the distortion of the past."
-Far Eastern Economic Review