China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: The Qing state has been studied as the dominant force in developing and fostering Manchu identity within a multiethnic empire. This panel investigates negotiations between the Qing state and various others in the making and unmaking of Manchu identity both within the official discourse and beyond. In her study about Manchu women’s names and the documentation of their names, Chengyi Zhou examines how the Chinese language was adopted by the state to articulate gender in a Han cultural-linguistic context, and by Manchu women themselves to go beyond limitations set by state-enforced naming practices in private texts. Similarly, Xiao Chen explores how the state criminalization of actions performed by people officially identified as Manchu—monickered as “shaming the Manchu face”—led to the exclusion of underclass Manchus from the Eight Banners. Furthering the interrogation of institutionalized Manchu identity, Chenxi Luo turns toward a group of escaped Manchu bondservants in the early Qing. The runaways of various ethnic origins represent a difficult component for the Qing rulers who tried to maintain rigorous standards for conduct within the banner society. Finally, Monica Kin-ian Chang explores how state-endorsed definitions of Qing identity tumbled when the late Qing revolutionaries reconstructed a pan-Manchu identity and hunted Manchus with purported physical traits. Collectively, this panel critiques the state-centered approach in viewing Manchu identity as a monolithic institutionalized product. It works towards a more nuanced history of Manchu identity negotiation and highlights the polyvocality of performing and defining Manchu-ness in a contingent and fluid process.
Virtual Paper Presenter: Chenxi Luo – Washington University in St Louis
Virtual Paper Presenter: Chengyi Zhou – University of Hong Kong
Virtual Paper Presenter: Xiao Chen – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Virtual Paper Presenter: Kin-ian (Monica) Chang – University of Hong Kong