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These course descriptions are not being updated as of August 1, 2016. Current course descriptions are maintained in LionPATH.

History (HIST)

HIST 588 Ethnicity and Borderlands in Late Imperial China (3) An examination and overview of literature and themes related to ethnicity, borderlands, and governance in late imperial China.

HIST 588 Ethnicity and Borderlands in Late Imperial China (3)

This course will provide students with a thematic and theoretical foundation for the study and teaching of Qing history. This course seeks to equip students to teach Chinese history with a multi-ethnic dimension while also examining the ethnically diverse borderland regions of Tibet, Chinese Central Asia, Mongolia and Manchuria.

Students will explore administrative policies, imperial rituals, political structures and legal codes related to the non-Han Chinese peoples to shift away from a ‘palace view’ of the imperial court. In this way, the more traditional notions of Qing diplomacy that highlights tributary states and static notions of center-periphery relations will be infused with a much more nuanced ethnic dimension.

Major topics to be covered will include the expansion of frontier and borderlands policies; how ethnicity was perceived in the borderlands vis-à-vis the imperial court; what recent theoretical concepts have been employed to recast the traditional understanding of Qing borderlands; the evolution of China’s governance and indigenous rule within the borderlands; and finally how gender, marriage, and the eroticization of China’s borderlands influences China’s characterization of the non-Chinese border populations.

The overarching theme will be one that seeks to throw into relief the strong ethnic diversity of late imperial China thus contrasting the notion of China as ethnically monolithic with the reality of an ethnically diverse empire. Students will be asked to explore the power of acculturation, weigh the impact of government-sponsored in-migration of Han Chinese, and develop an awareness of indigenous resistance and autonomy. On a methodological level, the study of China’s ethno-history combines several disciplines such as anthropology, political science, and religious studies with different subfields of history, ranging from economic to political, social, and cultural history. The merits and pitfalls of interdisciplinary approaches and the use of theory will be explored. The research papers will take the transnational dimension of late imperial China history into account and will rely on primary material and secondary studies from at least one other discipline.

Students will have the option to use this course as a research seminar, conducting primary document research alongside their historiographic readings. Students who select to do so will produce a research paper during the course.


General Education: None
Diversity: None
Bachelor of Arts: None
Effective: Summer 2012

Note : Class size, frequency of offering, and evaluation methods will vary by location and instructor. For these details check the specific course syllabus.

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