China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: The term “Conquest Dynasty” is Karl Wittfogel’s, and he coined it after World War II when he finished his magisterial study, History of Chinese Society, co-authored by Feng Jiasheng. (The term does not exist in Chinese; scholars say Zhengfu wangchao or merely the names of the Liao, Jin, Yuan, and Qing dynasties as the case may be.) Of course, the term reflects a Chinese point of view: these are the dynasties whose ruling families were not Han and who conquered part or all of the eighteen provinces. At the same time, it had a universal appeal; presenting the more complex and nuanced relationship between the two groups into a simple dichotomy, the conquered and the conquers. But since the time of Feng and Wittfogel, multiple new avenues of inquiry have appeared, and they are the subject of our panel. Valerie Hansen emphasizes how we should envision the “Conquest Dynasties” from a global perspective; Wonhee Cho’s research applies digital methodology on the Yuan dynasty officials to see what is behind the superficial Han vs. non-Han conflict; Karl Debreczeny examines the role of Tibetan Buddhism as a tool for projecting authority in various “Conquest Dynasties,” through both visual and textual sources. Roslyn Hammers’s analysis on the Qing’s interpretation of cotton production highlights the “modernistic” aspect of Qing rule of China. In sum, our panel demonstrates the importance of seeing the “Conquest Dynasties” from various perspectives, especially beyond the Sino-centric worldview.