The Han

China's Diverse Majority

Agnieszka Joniak-Luthi

  • Published: 2015. Paperback March 2017
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Anthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 200 pp., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Studies on Ethnic Groups in China
  • Contents

This ethnography explores contemporary narratives of "Han-ness," revealing the nuances of what Han identity means today in relation to that of the fifty-five officially recognized minority ethnic groups in China, as well as in relation to home place identities and the country's national identity. Based on research she conducted among native and migrant Han in Shanghai and Beijing, Aqsu (in Xinjiang), and the Sichuan-Yunnan border area, Agnieszka Joniak-Luthi uncovers and discusses these identity topographies. Bringing into focus the Han majority, which has long acted as an unexamined backdrop to ethnic minorities, Joniak-Luthi contributes to the emerging field of critical Han studies as she considers how the Han describe themselves - particularly what unites and divides them - as well as the functions of Han identity and the processes through which it is maintained and reproduced.

The Han
will appeal to scholars and students of contemporary China, anthropology, and ethnic and cultural studies.
Agnieszka Joniak-Luthi is a postdoctoral researcher of social and cultural anthropology at Ludwig-Maximilians University, Munich, and a Crossroads Asia Research Fellow.

"This is an innovative, thought-provoking, and important contribution to our understanding of contemporary Chinese society."
-James Leibold, coeditor of Critical Han Studies: The History, Representation, and Identity of China's Majority

"At a time when minority identities and conflicts between minorities and the state have become increasingly salient for our understanding of China and its politics, we need to pay more attention to the question of what Han identity means for the Han themselves and how conflict between Han and minorities is explained by the nature of Han identity. The Han makes an important contribution to this understanding."
-From the foreword by Stevan Harrell, author of Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China

Foreword by Stevan Harrell

1. Narrating "the Han"
2. Contemporary Narratives of Han-ness
3. Topographies of Identity
4. Othering, Exclusion, and Discrimination
5. Fragmented Identities, the Han Minzu, and Ethnicity

Glossary of Chinese Characters

"Contemporary anthropological research infrequently focuses on the Han, who constitute 91.5 percent of the Chinese population. Social anthropologist Joniak-Lčthi takes a big step "to explore the Han and Han-ness"... An ambitious work, similar to defining America and Americanism. Recommended."

"This should be a must-read for anyone interested in historical and contemporary notions of identity in China."
-Carla Nappi, New Books Network

"I am constantly intrigued by what it means to be Han. . . . Agnieszka Joniak-Lčthi's remarkable new book casts light on this question, and reveals Hanness as a slippery and multivalent designation. . . . The fieldwork undertaken by the author for this study, and the deep analysis to which she has subjected it, has produced a wonderful contribution to scholarship on the Han, but I believe it illumines also the ways in which we all see ourselves."
-Simon Wickhamsmith, New Books Asia