Manchus and Han

Ethnic Relations and Political Power in Late Qing and Early Republican China, 1861-1928

Edward J. M. Rhoads

  • Published: August 2015
  • Subject Listing: Asian Studies / China; Anthropology
  • Bibliographic information: 404 pp., 14 illus., 6 x 9 in.
  • Territorial rights: World Rights
  • Series: Studies on Ethnic Groups in China
  • Contents

China's 1911-12 Revolution, which overthrew a 2000-year succession of dynasties, is thought of primarily as a change in governmental style, from imperial to republican, traditional to modern. But given that the dynasty that was overthrown-the Qing-was that of a minority ethnic group that had ruled China's Han majority for nearly three centuries, and that the revolutionaries were overwhelmingly Han, to what extent was the revolution not only anti-monarchical, but also anti-Manchu?

Edward Rhoads explores this provocative and complicated question in Manchus and Han, analyzing the evolution of the Manchus from a hereditary military caste (the "banner people") to a distinct ethnic group and then detailing the interplay and dialogue between the Manchu court and Han reformers that culminated in the dramatic changes of the early 20th century.

Until now, many scholars have assumed that the Manchus had been assimilated into Han culture long before the 1911 Revolution and were no longer separate and distinguishable. But Rhoads demonstrates that in many ways Manchus remained an alien, privileged, and distinct group. Manchus and Han is a pathbreaking study that will forever change the way historians of China view the events leading to the fall of the Qing dynasty. Likewise, it will clarify for ethnologists the unique origin of the Manchus as an occupational caste and their shifting relationship with the Han, from border people to rulers to ruled.

Winner of the Joseph Levenson Book Prize for Modern China, sponsored by The China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies
Edward J. M. Rhoads is professor of history at the University of Texas at Austin. He is the author of China's Republican Revolution: The Case of Kwangtung, 1895-1913.Winner of the Joseph Levenson Book Prize for Modern China, sponsored by The China and Inner Asia Council of the Association for Asian Studies

1. Separate and Unequal
2. Cixi and the "Peculiar Institution"
3. Zaifeng and the "Manchu Ascendency"
4. The 1911 Revolution
5. Court and Manchus after 1911


"A pleasure to read. . . . For its thorough research and judicious conclusions, Manchus and Han is a valuable addition to the literature on ethnicity and politics in early 20th-century China."
-The Historian

"This engaging and well-documented study makes significant contributions to our understanding both of late 19th and early 20th century Chinese history, and of China's continuing struggle with ethnic heterogeneity. The fact that the book is readable, well-written and at times even suspenseful, enhances its usefulness and appeal."
-China Quarterly

"Superbly produced and the best kind of academic writing."
-American Historical Review

"A powerful contribution . . . to the literature on the 1911 revolution."
-Journal of Asian Studies

"A volume worthy of worldwide celebration. It is the first monograph written in either English or Chinese dedicated to the study of the relationship between the Manchus and the Han Chinese from the middle of the nineteenth century through most of the twentieth. It is also a significant addition the growing research on the history of the Manchus and Qing dynasty (1636-1911) by accomplishing the very challenging task of dealing with the Manchu-Han relationship during and after the 1911 Revolution. The awarding of the 2002 Joseph Levenson Book Prize to Rhoads for this volume demonstrates the academic recognition of this remarkable achievement."
-China Review International

"Edward Rhoad's fascinating narrative has made an important contribution to the ongoing debate on the 'Manchu question' in Qing history. Readers interested in China's late imperial social and political history, and ethnic relations, or simply wishing to know more about the astonishing 'rise and fall' of the Manchus and their empire will be rewarded by this solidly researched and very readable book."
-School of Oriental and African Studies