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Coming to Terms with the Nation [Epub] ➛ Coming to Terms with the Nation ➜ Thomas S. Mullaney – Thomashillier.co.uk China is a vast nation comprised of hundreds of distinct ethnic communities each with its own language history and culture Today the government of China recognizes just 56 ethnic nationalities or minz China is a vast nation Terms with Epub Þ comprised of hundreds of distinct ethnic communities each with its own language history and culture Today the government of China recognizes just ethnic nationalities or minzu as groups entitled to representation This controversial new Coming to Kindle - book recounts the history of the most sweeping attempt to sort and categorize the nation's enormous population the Ethnic Classification project minzu shibie Thomas S Mullaney draws on recently declassified material and extensive oral histories to describe how the communist to Terms with MOBI ☆ government in power less than a decade launched this process in ethnically diverse Yunnan Mullaney shows how the government drew on Republican era scholarship for conceptual and methodological inspiration as it developed a strategy for identifying minzu and how non Party member Chinese ethnologists produced a “scientific” survey that would become the basis for a policy on nationalities.

  • Hardcover
  • 256 pages
  • Coming to Terms with the Nation
  • Thomas S. Mullaney
  • English
  • 14 April 2015
  • 9780520262782

About the Author: Thomas S. Mullaney

Thomas S Mullaney is Associate Terms with Epub Þ Professor of History at Stanford University and the author of Coming to Terms with the Nation Ethnic Classification in Modern China.



10 thoughts on “Coming to Terms with the Nation

  1. Marissa Marissa says:

    The ethnic Classification Project portrayed in these pages is herculean and fragile all at once The project was monumental as one can sense most palpably in the way it has saturated all subseuent modes of Chinese ethnological knowledge and formed a prism through which our understanding of Chinese ethnicity and the Chinese nation state is unavoidably refracted p134This is put simply an excellent book Its subject the creation of 56 minority nationalities or minzu in the 1950s where before there had been hundreds is riveting and Thomas S Mullaney does it full justice with prose which is as detailed as it is enjoyable His choice of case study is also excellent by focusing on the southwestern frontier province of Yunnan Mullaney is able to trace the extensive influences which British colonial attitudes and styles of scholarship had on the developing field of ethnology in the PRC He begins his investigation appropriately enough with the census carried out by the new government in 1953 4 demonstrating how policies from the center relied upon acuiring mass data not only about the life and livelihood but also the ethnicity of millions of subjects He then examines how the unmanageable results of the census unleashed an enormous academic and administrative effort to classify and order this ambiguous border region To do so he draws productively on the work of Foucault and James Scott to show the PRC's process of learning how to see like a state Mullaney's key insight from a detailed look at linguists' and ethnographers' field methods in the 50s is the extent to which academics sought to describe not the ethnographic landscape as it existed but rather in its ideal form after state intervention had disciplined the imaginations of its people into creating the communities it desired p39 This accounts he argues for a phenomenon observed by many anthropologists the 56 minorities model has become accurate and natural to its members over time despite the often arbitrary and coerced nature of its first formation Because of its accessible writing and extensive engagement with scholarly literature I would highly recommend this book to anyone with an interest in identity politics modern Chinese history the development of sociology or theories of state governance

  2. J J says:

    Everyone was still riding the wave of the first flush of enthusiasm after the founding of the People's Republic of China all kinds of nation building activity was afoot announcements were being made left right and centre and the clock was ticking The first National People's Congress was going to be held in late 1954 all minority peoples of China were legally guaranteed representation and the very reasonable sounding plan was that they should be over representated compared to their proportion of the population not least to minimize the risk of over domination by the Han majority but a somewhat amusing problem presented itself no one could say who they were Who exactly was guaranteed representation? What were the minority groups of China?The most problematic area of the country was Yunnan Province in the south west ing Dynasty scholar officials sniffily dismissed as unscientific by their Republican descendants had described hundreds of groups Jiang Jieshi Chiang Kai shek and others in the GMD KMT had insisted that there was only one ethnicity in the whole of China merely divided by dialect custom and religion though Sun Zhongshan founder of the modern nation in 1911 had previously been persuaded that there were five The CCP was committed to a much less chauvinistic approach and to a view of the nation that would define it as a composite of discrete yet permanently attached pieces So what were the pieces and how would they be decided upon and how much time did you say there was for doing that really tricky bit down in Yunnan? Six months??Mullaney gives us the cultural historical and conceptual background to the remarkable project of recognising China's minorities Though his focus is on the hard work that went into Yunnan Province which ultimately provided 25 of China's officially recognised 55 minorities he sheds a huge amount of light on the whole and on the theoretical and philosophical and political issues that human categorisation entails draws upon and attempts to foreclose He relies not only on an impressive breadth of international scholarship about modern state building and identity but also on fieldnotes that had not seen the light of day since 1954 and on interviews with surviving members of the team of anthropologists and students that were sent to sort out the problem He writes clearly wittly and is too sophisticated to get bogged down in whether the categorizations are wrong per se as he is much interested in showing how things went down what compromises were necessary and what intellectual apparatus had to be assembled to sufficiently meet the demands of various actors and their discoursesMost interestingly in a book brimful of interest was Mullaney showing how the Chinese ethnographers had to use the idea of ethnic potential to get round the problem of there being simply too much diversity in Yunnan Ethnicities were thus created which sometimes reuired the creation of fresh ethonyms since multiple groups were rammed together creating the further problem of which name to use and Coming to Terms with the Nation uotes from the original sources in which these very uestions were discussed in head scratching detail according to what sort of groupings might work out under the right sort of persuasion and guidance from the Party who could be raised to become an ethnicity Ethnicity was thus not defined according to a complex mixture of place descent custom religion economic life etc as some might say it should have been or according to what people actually said which some others might say it should have been; the amazingly liberal first PRC census in 1953 54 which allowed people complete freedom in designating their ethnicity no tick boxes in sight had revealed than 400 groups in Yunnan which was to put it mildly politically inconvenient but according to a judgement made about what might workMost ironically in a great fizzing pile of ironies was how the amateur polyglot British colonial army officer and traveller HR Davies 1865 1950 who spent a decade in Yunnan right at the start of the 20th century ended up setting the framework mediated via several creative Chinese scholars for how the CCP would then recognise and manipulate its southern minorities Not Stalinist ethnicity theory as the rhetoric often proclaims not indigenous ideas but HR Davies and his language based scheme Millions of people's lives some of the seating in the Chinese rubber stamp parliament and literally who knows how many tonnes of cultural products postcards costumes museum displays sets of ethnic dolls tools hats books CDs you name it have taken they shape they have because he wrote a neat book in 1909 based on his travels in Yunnan I may be over stating this slightly but only everso slightly The PRC is heavily invested and has heavily invested in its ethnic minority paradigm as one of the ideological and political bases of the nation and it is fascinating to have the most colourful part of this exposed to the warm light of Mullaney's friendly critiue Poor HR Davies though in typical acts of CCP lying and historical cover up they never let the truth get in the way of a good story or even a rather dull story he was posthumously dissed All memories of Davies were uickly buried or transformed On May 11 1951 for example Liu Geping delivered a speech to the Government Administration Council entitled Summary Report on the Central Nationalities Visitation Team's Visits to the Nationalities of the Southwest One foreigner in particular was mentioned by name Henry Rodolph Davies Unlike the late Republican period however where his 1909 work was celebrated as the starting point for all ethnotaxonomic work conducted in the southwest Davies was now summarily dismissed as an imperialist spy whose life history and work illuminated little than European violation of Chinese sovereignty In late 1954 the irony became even pronounced In September of that year Yang Yucai a high ranking political member of the Yunnan Province Ethnic Classification published an article in Geographic Knowledge in which he dismissed Davies' research as the antiscientific nonsense of a capitalist careerist Little did Yang realise it seems that it was Davies' antiscientific theories that Republican era Chinese ethnologists had used to make a sharp break with earlier imperial modes of ethnotaxonomy and that in the early People's Republic guided the ethnic categorization of China's most diverse province p68This book is a beautiful example of how to make the most obstruse and obscure though not to millions of Yunnanese of course academic topic strangely fun Can't wait to get hold of his work on the Chinese Typewriter

  3. Jeremy Hurdis Jeremy Hurdis says:

    I recommend this book if you are interested in the challenges of entering into the nation state model and how China had to deal with the issue of ethnicity when attempting to form a unified nation The ing dynasty has identified many different peoples residing in the empire but as Mullaney shows China came to recognise only about 56 officially This study ties together the problem of knowledge construction and how we understand power as the nation state model becomes the norm

  4. Grace Grace says:

    This book should really be subtitled How a Bored British Army Officer Created China's Ethnic Classification System because it's mostly sort of true While I wouldn't recommend this book to the casual reader it will do wonders in explaining how China's ethnic minorities were classified for anyone with a serious interest in the subject

  5. Jenn T Jenn T says:

    my friend's advisor at Standford wrote this seems like it will be a good read

  6. Paul Paul says:

    Henry Rodolph Davies—Responsible for developing an ethnic taxonomy of Yunnan that was later adopted by early twentieth century Chinese ethnologists linguists wrote “Yunnan the link between India and the Yangtze” Wang Wia Li – wrote a diary throughout the classification project of the 1950’s“the Chinese State has been remarkably successful in bringing about a ‘convergence’ between ethnotaxonomic theory and practice a term Geoffry Bowker and Susan Leigh Star describe as the purposive act of changing the world ‘such that they system’s description of reality becomes true’”14 Alain Desrosieres –the ‘social history of the creation of euivalence’ – looks into how ‘classification works’ minzu gongzuo “nationality work” actualizing the prescriptive categories of the 1954 classification politically 1911 – end of the ing Empire nation racesingle race republic Chiang Kai Sheck committed to this vision of the state Fei Xiatong – praised Yunnan as a ‘cultural laboratory par excellence In a single day we will have travelled from Polynesia to New York’ uestion What are the ontologicalspatialtemporal limits of understanding a given object or phenomenon “as it is” “where it is” or “when it happens?” See Korin Knorr cotina “Epistemic Cultures How the Sciences make knowledge” 1999The Davies Model facilitated the creation of at a glance models that were incomparably economical than older methods came closer to a design strategy that was ‘transparent and self effacing’ “giving the focus over to data rather than data containers” provides a sense of Yunnan’s ethnological present as well as its ethnic past facilitating both synchronic diachronic readings” 1st order the Sinitic languages 2nd order Language families 3rd order Language groups 4th order LanguagesEthnic groups speakers of said languages 5th order DialectsEthnic branches 55“Where scholars have become accustomed to treating the Ethnic Classification project as a Communist affair the pedigree of the project’s underlying taxonomic logic reuires us to adopt a broader historical outlook that spans the 1949 divide” 65Davies Chinese ethnologists Regional Governments Chinese ethnologists Regional Governments 1954 Classification project“ In order to understand how the ethnotaxonomy of the PRC was formed we are behooved to abandon what might be termed ‘communist imposition hypothesis’ and to pay much closer attention to PRC state’s social scientific advisors” 65 social scientific advisors – “It was their taxonomic worldview not that of the Communist party which argued on behalf of a radically synthetic mode of ethnic categorization” 65“Natsia” Russia – “Founded upon the evolutionary theories of Lewis Henry Morgan and Friedrich Engels and formalized by Stalin in his 1913 tract ‘Marxism and the National and Colonial uestion’” 72Natsia Stalin’s def of Nationality1 For a group to be considered a nationalitya share common languageb common territoryc common mode of economic productiond common psychology taken to mean culture2 Even stringent involved ranking groups along a five stage evolutionary scale encompassing primitive communism slavery feudalism capitalism socialism pre capitalist communities were not to be considered full fledged nationalitieschapter 3 around 72 75ishon the 1954 classification“this project is not research for the sake of research The Classification will be scientific but not academic” –Li uijie classification supervisor 73minzuxue the study of minzuminzuzhi ethnographyzhongzu studies of racerenleizue anthropologyCai Yuan pei – renowned president of Peking University 74“Cai placed the new discipline in the center of a discursive battle that would soon rage between the Guomindang the Communists As soon as it was born therefore Chinese ethnology found itself the third member in a debate over the essence of Chinese nationhood” 75Republican Period 1911 1949“Ethnologists attempted to convince state authorities that the proper response to the divisive foreign born taxonomies was not to deny the existence of diversity but rather to create their own taxonomy which in recognizing the existence of diverse groups in China would thereby incorporate them into the state building proess and prevent them from being enticed by the Japanese French and British” 79Communist chinese view multi minzuGMD view mono minzu“Ironically the factor that had placed the discipline of ethnology at the heart of political tensions in the Republican period – its title minzuxue – was the very same one that left it unsettled during the Communist reorganization of the higher education” 80tongyi de duo minzu guojia “unified multi national country” Minzu Jituanminzu jituan “ethnic potential” of a group ethnos greek narod RussianShizu clan Primitive Communismbuluo tribe Primitive Communismbuzu tribal federation slave societybuzu tribal federation Feudalismminzu nationalityethnic group Capitalismminzu nationalityethnic group Socialism“Having introduced and clarified the concet of minzu jituan Lin was prepared for the final step in his reinterpretation the simple yet daring act of removing the ualifier jituan In this final act of transitivity the term minzu was made to stand in for that of minzu jituan stretched out to encircle a greater conceptual area than ever before” 84“As with the formation of the Zhuang the team adopted a two part process first assessing the viability of a merger between the various applicant groups and then contemplating the merger of this composite with the Yi “At first” the Classification report explained the Mili interviewee “believed himself to be different from the ‘Lalu’ the ‘Micha’ and the ‘Menghua’”However”by means of comparing their languages clothing housing customs and so forth” the researchers were able to convince the Mili representative that his group was one and the same as the aforementioned three Yang Zhengyun the representative of the Mili in attendance was then recorded as conceding that “I suppose we’re one part of a single group” “From the perspective of conventional social scientific theory an intervention such as this would likely be dismissed as a form of data contamination Rather than fitting their taxonomy to the subjectivities of their respondents researchers were trying to mold the consciousness of their respondents to fit the taxonomy” 103“their primary concern was shifted away from mapping out existing divisions in the ethnographic present and towards assessing plausible unities in the ethnographic future” 105“This last conclusion was made possible by an epistemological and methodological approach we might call transitivity Once the Shuitian and for example the Zhili were found to be sufficiently similar linguistically they were then treated as categorically identical in all subseuent taxonomic operations Once two groups were set eual to one another any pursuant categorizations of the one necessarily and “naturally’ applied to the other hence once the Shuitian were euated with the Liangshan Yi the so too was the Zhili Ziyi Talu and so on In other words if a eualed b and b eualed c then Zhili euald Yi” 114“In a survey of anthropological work on China for example Susan Blum provides an excellent overview of the Chinese ethnic studies subfield outlining a group of scholars who uite tellingly subspecialize in accordance with the familiar boundaries Whereas not every one of the fifty six minzu has received the attention of international scholarship as Blum notes “the ethnic map is being filled in” 126“June 16 2008 marked ‘fifty six days until the fifty six minzu welcome the Olympics’ And at the opening ceremonies of the games in a moment haunted by the memory of the Tibetan uprisings only months earlier a procession of fifty six children dressed a the fifty six minzu presented People’s Liberation Army troops with the flag of the People’s Republic Although it was later discovered that most of these children were in fact Han the symbolism remained clear” 127“Circa 2008 it would appear that some ethnologists ar once again up to their old iconoclastic tricks Unable to apply the term minzu to anyone but the officially recognized peoples some scholars on the mainland have begun to adopt the Taiwnese neologism zuun as their new approximation of the English term ‘ethnic group’ Whereas the dynamics of this shift have yet to reveal themselves fully I would suggest that one reason for this is once again political it enables Chinese ethnologists to engage in the discussion of ethnicity withoug violating the dictates of the officially sacrosanct model to move away from being ‘prisoners of the science imposed upon them by the Communist Party’ as Stevan Harrell has phrased it” 133

  7. Andrew Andrew says:

    This books moves to debase scholars' common conceptions about the history of China's modern national minorities Based on a rigorous reading of the formerly inaccessible 1954 Yunnan Province Ethnic Classification Project Mullaney interrogates the moments that led to the reification of Yunnan's official minzu a term that is usually translated as nationality Mullaney argues that the 56 nationalities that currently constitute the Chinese nation were not the result of a CCP fiat that simply mimicked Stalin's Soviet model Instead a mixture of legacies politics and creative work converged to create the nationalities mosaic that structures China's ethnic make up todayThe author explains the multiple factors that converged to yield Yunnan's minzu First the 1954 census was a response to an earlier crisis In an illustration of the Chinese Communists' characteristic experimental style early authorities allowed for the self reporting of nationality in the unpublished 1953 census Around 20 nationalities reported only one member; this led to a crisis of representation at the National Congress which was to allow for one representative for every nationality Second although the Soviet model was insisted upon as a framework for the ethnologists that carried out the 1954 Classification Project Mullaney reveals a dialectic of power and knowledge that reveals that the process was than a mere top down handing down of categories Ethnologists worked from prior colonial and Republican classificatory systems and negotiated their working definition of Stalin's category natsia in order to limit the number of possible nationalities appease political authorities and put to use the linguistic data they already had available Third the ethnologists that carried out the work engaged in transformative sessions in which they encouraged groups unconnected in everyday interactions to have epiphanies in which they realized their connections to each other Through this method and some other interesting statistical maneuvers the author terms in perhaps an excess of terminological innovation transitivity and aster linear organization the ethnologists melt disparate groups together through their scientific logicMullaney continuously argues that he is showing a break with previous historians by proving that ethnologists were not handmaidens to the state and that the Soviet Stalinist model of the common fours was not accepted and applied without reflections The argument holds well but the book also makes clear the asymmetry of power between the CCP and the ethnologists and then the ethnologists and the ethnologized The Stalinist categories were not simply applied wholesale but would anyone argue they were in the early Soviet Union either? Ethnologists there working with political authorities had to decide on the appropriate numbers and territories of each group This is what happens when political authorities armed only with dogma declare what the attributes of the real world are So when Mullaney argues for activist or intellectually autonomous ethnologists I fail to see how they are radically different from the political powers that be This is true of the Colonialist Davies and the Republican scholars that muted their categories under the cautious Guomindang Surely there was a dialog but I feel Mullaney overemphasizes the power of the ethnologists who appear in the Yunnan project to be fulfilling a model decided upon before fieldwork even began He also argues that the move towards uzun or ethnicity in contemporary study can be read in this radical tradition This is one interesting reading of this shift another reading that the author does not address is the depoliticization of the nationality uestion in China that some scholars and political authorities would like to see realized; this would result in nationalities losing their political status and perhaps their language education and other counter measures originally intended to counter Han chauvinism Some fear that the move towards ethnicities would result in the assimilation of China's ethnic diversity in a Han or globalized cultureFinally Mullaney's most interesting innovation is the notion of the plausible community The communities that ethnologists with the state decided upon were not thought to be actually existing groups Instead they were aspirational groups Through persuasion work that would result from the continuous support of the PRC's cultural institutions and the normative administrative framework the groups decided upon would come to be realized Linguistics had shown that connections already existed between the amalgamated members of a minzu Once they had a common dialect that could be standardized and taught a definitive history and other defined cultural accoutrements the members of a minzu could regrow into one community This is convincingly argued and Mullaney takes to task the Chinese and non Chinese scholars that start their inuiries in the Yi Yao Miao etc as a working backwards to explain the group Such research projects only reify these categories It would be better to reveal the history of forces that make and maintain the group and emphasize that their diversity within reveals the contingency of the over arching categorization However Mullaney also acknowledges that much of the persuasion work has been successful Because of this it is less unsurprising that anthropologists take these categories seriously So if the persistent problem is that scholars remain obsessed with ethnic and national categories even though their artificial nature is well known it is hard to say that Mullaney is beyond this paradigm himself He appears to be as his title states still coming to terms with the nation

  8. Greg Greg says:

    A fascinating discussion into the nature of identity formation when orchestrated according to government mandate While failing to advance the CCP's promise to provide all ethnic groups with representation in the National People's Congress the ethnographers and state officials did the best they could but unfortunately the results have become a sort of hagiographic mantra as in many such states

  9. Rebecca Rebecca says:

    An interesting and well written examination of the development of China's fifty six ethnic groups with a specific focus on the Ethnic Classification Project in Yunnan Province This book does a great job of not only revealing how these 56 ethnic groups were established but why and the thought process behind it The background on ethnology in China during the Republic and the early PRC was especially interesting but occasionally confusing because the information was not given all at once but scattered throughout several chapters Additionally the description of ethnic minorities after the 1950s felt very rushed with only the most basic of descriptions For example the author mentions that ethnic minorities were persecuted during the Cultural Revolution for being part of the backwards old traditions but does not elaborate I would have appreciated information Also this is a book that is best read with some prior knowledge of modern China and some familiarity with demographics in China even if it's just a skim of the Wikipedia articles I found a very basic knowledge of Chinese to be useful since he occasionally doesn't translate terms like minzu which can be translated as either nationality or ethnicity depending on the context He usually explained the Chinese terms before he used them but it was much easier to read with a basic familiarity with Chinese

  10. Jessica Zu Jessica Zu says:

    Mullaney is an awesome writer though sometimes too much of a good writing might not be a good thing Anyway the research is top notch and it deepens our understanding of the fluid ethnic identity and how CCP as well as previous regimes and scholars manipulated masterfully this plasticity of ethnic identity for the socialist project It's neither a dictated Stalin model nor an internalization of British model but a creative synthesis conjured up by the Chinese scholars as well as the inexperienced state It's a learning process for both the state and the categorized It also demonstrates an interesting aspect of agency it's not a clear cut conform vs rebel; it's just subtle

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