East Asia Workshop: Politics, Economy and Society

April 19 Workshop


Workshop on East Asia:
Politics, Economy and Society Presents

“Territorialization and Mongolian Ethnic Formation in Hulun Buir, 1900-1917”

Liping Wang
Doctoral Candidate, Department of Sociology, University of Chicago
4:30-5:50pm, Tuesday
April 19, 2011
Pick Lounge
5828 South University Ave.

Workshop website: http://cas.uchicago.edu/workshops/eastasia/
Student coordinator: Jean Lin (jeanlin@uchicago.edu)
Faculty sponsors: Dali Yang and Dingxin Zhao
The workshop is sponsored by the Center for East Asian Studies and the Council on Advanced Studies in Humanities and Social Sciences. Persons with disabilities who believe they may need assistance, please contact the student coordinator in advance.

In this chapter, I examine why and how a territorial-based Mongolian identity came into shape in the early 20th century in Hulun Buir, a peripheral land conventionally dominated by mosaic tribal forces enrolled in Manchu garrisons. I delineate two historical paths: one led to the territorialization of Hulun Buir– which was once sparsely dotted by the garrison town and frontier guard posts—under both Russian and Chinese initiatives since the mid-19th century; the other led to the erasure of tribal differences and the propagation of a broader Mongolian identity among native soldiers after the military reform (1900-1911). These two processes occurred in different contexts, somehow interrelated, but eventually converged in the peace negotiation (1914-1917) arranged after Hulun Buir independence in 1912. The convergence of these two processes for the first time inscribed the Mongolian territorial right of Hulun Buir natives and propelled the formation of a territorial-based Mongolian identity among former tribal soldiers. I argue that long-term transmutations in Sino-Russian geopolitical relationship to a large extent made all these changes possible.
My study disaggregates two historical processes—ethnic group formation and territorial identification—which are rarely separated in mainstream theories of nationalism and ethnic formation. I explain why in reality these two processes do not necessarily cohere– ethnic group formation does not seamlessly coalesce with the process of territorial identification. Instead, one process could precede/ succeed the other and they could take separate routes, contradict or converge.

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