Colloquium in East Asian History



Spring 2014

HIEA 4511 (1)

Colloquium in East Asian History

"China's Borderlands"

Xiaoyuan Liu

“Frontier China” is a perpetual phenomenon.  Ethnopolitical upheavals in China’s borderlands in the 20th century were just acts of Frontier China during the “national” era.  In differing from China’s ancient imperial age, during which those territorially mobile dynasties often treated frontiers as “leaves and branches,” the national era brought China’s ethnic peripheries to center stage and made them into key factors in the formation of the “Chinese nation.”  Yet standard historical narratives about 20th-century China tend to overlook this continuous frontier character of China; China’s ethnic borderlands are either ignored or treated as peripheries to sociopolitical developments in the eastern half of China.  

This seminar is designed to balance the conventional wisdom and consider the agency of China’s ethnic borderlands in the country’s 20th-century development.  In this class students will read selected titles in clusters that address respectively these issues: (1) frontiers and “historical China,” (2) “centralizing nationalism” vs. “separatist nationalism”, and (3) integration, developments, and rights.  These titles are mainly but not exclusively about three regions that have been most active ethnopolitically: Inner and Outer Mongolia, Tibet, and Xinjiang.  Aside from grasping the historical processes and issues involved, students will also practice historians’ handicraft and critique scholarly works in the field by participating in class discussions and writing book reviews.

The student’s grade for the class is based on active class participation, weekly reviews of books (1-2 pages), and a historiographical essay (about 10 pages) based on her/his book reviews.



Corcoran Department of History
University of Virginia
Nau Hall - South Lawn
Charlottesville, VA 22904



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