Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers

Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers

Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers

Cultural Encounters on China's Ethnic Frontiers

Excerpt

Around the geographic periphery of the Chinese empire, later the Republic of China, and now the People's Republic of China, as well as in some of the less accessible parts of China's interior, and sometimes even in its cities, live a variety of peoples of different origins, languages, ecological adaptations, and cultures. These peripheral peoples or, as they are now customarily tagged, "minorities," have been subjected over the last few centuries to a series of attempts by dominant powers to transform them, to make them more like the transformers or, in the parlance of the transformers themselves, to "civilize" them. There have been at least four such civilizing projects in recent history, carried out by the three successive Chinese governments and by Western missionaries who operated in China between the Treaty of Nanjing in 1842 and the establishment of the People's Republic in 1949. This book is concerned with the ideology of three of these projects and with the similarities and differences among them, as well as their effect on the peripheral peoples (particularly in the development of ethnic consciousness) and on the central, civilizing powers.

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