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Ilha Formosa


Xinjiang and Islam

Readings for Unit 1: The Basics

Monday, March 30
Today we go over the outline and requirements for the class, and chart the growth of China in time and space over the last three thousand years.

Wednesday, April 1
Today I will present the history of Chinese civilizing projects. There are a lot of things you might read. The starred* ones with bold links are particularly recommended:

*Begin by thinking of ethnicity in the context of nationalism, with James Townsend, *Chinese Nationalism, Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs, 1992, which is the best summary I have ever read of the Chinese nationalist position on the question of what is Chinese, and of the historical process that produced it.

Then pick and choose from the following takes on the question of ethnicity, nationality, and anthropology in China, from three different disciplines, paying particular attention to the *starred articles:
  • Anthropology: the evolution of my views over the decade and a half that I was writing actively on the topic:

    The Introduction to Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers (University of Washington Press, 1995), was my first attempt at a general synthesis of the processes that go on between the Chinese center and the peripheral peoples. I now think it rather naive and oversimplistic, but it keeps getting quoted.

    The Introduction to Negotiating Ethnicities in China and Taiwan, edited by Melissa J. Brown (University of California Institute for East Asian Studies, 1996) was a little better, taking into account ideas about how history covers a negotiated process with a narrative of inevitable progress.

    *I was pretty satisfied with the third attempt, which is chapters 1-3 of *Ways of Being Ethnic in Southwest China. If you read only one, read this one, but keep in mind that the first one is standard in the field, only because I used a term, "civilizing project," that not too many people in China studies had used before. Using a new term is what gets you known among academics.

  • Political Science:
    Susan McCarthy is concerned with using examples from China to criticize and refine theories of ethnicity and nationalism. The first two chapters of her book, Communist Multiculturalism, will give you a good idea of a political scientist's perspective.

  • History:
    Patricia Ebrey of the UW has written about an interesting way to conceive of what makes someone Chinese (a question we will be dealing with throughout the quarter) , in Surnames and Han Chinese Identity, in Brown's Negotiating Ethnicities.

    Laura Hostetler's Introduction to The Art of Ethnography gives you insight into ethnic classifications as they were done in the Qing and other empires contemporaneous with it. Please make sure you read this before the class on Tuesday the 13th, when I will bring a full-color, full-sized reproduction of a Qing Miao album for you to look at.

    *Proceeding to recent history, Thomas Mullaney's *Coming to Terms with the Nation is fundamental for understanding how Chinese governments over the past century or so have come up with their classifications of ethnic groups. Read his introduction and his chapter on the relationship between Communist statecraft and earlier anthropology.

    The indefatigable Uradyn Erden Bulag, whom you will meet again in the unit on the Mongols (of which he is of course one), recently wrote a fascinating and innovative article with the deliberately (I think) misleading title of Political Tourism, describing the ways that the CCP state treated elites of the newly subjugated minority peoples. Although Bulag is an anthropologist, this is a historical article, and thus included here.

    *More recently still, Mark Elliott has written *The Case of the Missing Indigene, a very useful summary of recent debates within the Chinese government that may result in revision of the paradigm that has governed "minority work" in the PRC for the past half-century. This article is very important, but you won't understand it too well unless you have read some of the materials above.
Here are some slides relevant to the overall topic of ecology, ethnicity, and civilizing projects.