China and Inner Asia
Session Abstract: From the 18th century to the early 20th century, the Qing dynasty (1644-1911) underwent a historical transformation from an empire to a nation, going from building the largest empire in Chinese history to struggling over lost territory. As historians have shown, from the very beginnings of the Qing state, the minority Manchu rulers employed a variety of strategies to consolidate their ruling power over both the Chinese heartland and the frontiers of its enlarged territory, including bureaucracy, marriage alliances, and civilizing missions (jiaohua). These policies had profound gender and ethnic dimensions. Incorporating marriage relations and the discourse of proper gender roles into politics, the Manchu court built alliances with Inner Asian allies, strengthened their control of the borderlands, and solidified their rule over the Han population. Across different ethnic and cultural backgrounds, the various ruling strategies also affected and reshaped the lives and identities of individuals who were ruled by the Manchus. The proposed panel examines the Qing dynasty’s historical transformations through the dual lenses of gender and ethnicity, focusing on the Yongzheng emperor’s official selection criteria and his vision of Manchu masculinity, the Mongolian female poet Naxun Lanbao’s multi-ethnic identity and life experience under the Manchu-Mongol marriage alliance policy, and changing Chinese representations of Burmese women in response to British encroachment on the southwestern borderlands. By connecting these three different case studies, this panel sheds new light on the political discourse of gender, ethnicity, and empire in late imperial and early republican China.
Paper Presenter: Lex Jing Lu – Clark University
Paper Presenter: Yizhuang Ding – Chinese Academy of Social Sciences
Co-author: Yulian Wu – Michigan State University
Paper Presenter: Jie Guo – University of South Carolina