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Xinjiang and Islam
Readings for Unit 2: The Mongols
Monday, April 6: The Ecological Frontier
The importance of the ecological frontier between the Chinese and the peoples of the steppe was first conceptualized in English by Owen Lattimore in the 1930s and 40s, in Inner Asian Frontiers of China and other works.
In the 1990s, Dee Mack Williams explored the cultural and ecological aspects of the frontier in a series of books and articles. The Barbed Walls of China: A Contemporary Grassland Drama, from The Journal of Asian Studies, 1996, and Representations of Nature on the Mongolian Steppe, from American Anthropologist, 2000 present interesting analyses derived from his year of fieldwork in Inner Mongolia. You should come to class ready to discuss whether Williams, in spite of his disclaimers, in fact demonizes the Chinese, and whether this invalidates his work or not.
More recently, desertification and grassland degradation in China have become hot topics in international developmental discourse. The Asia Society/China Green documentary, At the Desert's Edge is representative of this discourse, and environmental scholars have begun to re-examine certain assumptions about the relationship of property rights to land degradation, as exemplified by Zhang Chengzheng et al.'s Property Rights and Grassland Degradation. Watch the 11-minute film with Williams's and Zhang's writings in mind, and come to class ready to discuss the cultural issues implicitly raised by the film.
Wednesday, April 8: Ethnic Idenity and Ethnic Politics
Today we begin to consider the politics of ethnic identity, a topic that will occupy a large portion of our attention during the rest of the course. Much of what has been written about Inner Mongolian Identity comes from the 1990s, but I have tried to include as much more recent material as possible. The readings are organized into subject headings. Try to read one from each heading:
A short presentation on Coal, Deserts, Protests, and Ethnicity is now posted as well.
- Language, culture, and ethnicity:
Almaz Khan, Who are the Mongols?, in Melissa Brown, ed., Negotiating Ethnicity in China and Taiwan.
Uradyn E. Bulag, Mongolian Ethnicity and Linguistic Anxiety in China, American Anthropologist, 2004.
- Changing cultural symbols
Almaz Khan, "Chinggis Khan: From Imperial Ancestor to Ethnic Hero," in Cultural Encounters.
Uradyn Erden Bulag, The Cult of Ulanhu, in The Mongols at China's Edge (Rowman and Littlefield, 2002).
- Education and propaganda
Wurlig Borchigud, The Impact of Urban Ethnic
Education, in Cultural Encounters.
Uradyn Erden Bulag, Models and Morality, in The Mongols at China's Edge (Rowman and Littlefield, 2002).The Little Heroic Sisters of the Grassland is a story known to everyone who lived through the Cultural Revolution
- Policy and Politics
Uradyn E. Bulag, The Dialectics of Colonialization and Ethnicity Building, from Morris Rossabi's Governing China's Multiethnic Frontiers (University of Washington Press, 2004).
Enze Han, The dog that hasn't barked: assimilation and resistance Inner Mongolia, Asian Ethnicity, 2011.