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Frontier Stories: Periphery as Center in Qing History

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Since at least the 1960s, the importance of the tremendous territorial expansion under Qing rule to the modern history of China has been generally acknowledged. Indeed, one can say that the frontier story is one of the things that makes the Qing “Qing.” However, only in the last twenty years has the study of what is now termed the “borderlands” come into its own as a sub-field. This essay begins by describing some key concepts and terms in the study of the Qing frontier, including the Manchu word jecen. It then raises the problem of narrative frameworks, asking how we might best contextualize the growth of the empire, before going on to explore the implications of the discursive shift represented by the “New Qing History” and the extensive research on Qing borderlands associated therewith. A poem by the Mongol poet Na-xun Lan-bao provides the focus for a concluding discussion of a distinctive Qing frontier sensibility.

10.3868/s020-003-014-0025-1
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/content/journals/10.3868/s020-003-014-0025-1
2014-09-23
2018-09-20

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