China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This paper is a study of the role of wild and domestic animals in the maintenance of pre-industrial empire, as exemplified by the Qing Dynasty (1644-1912). It identifies some specifics of select animal behavior’s effects on human institutions, which are often assumed to be purely social constructs, in order to contribute to the redefinition of the concept of pre-industrial empire as a set of more environmental, and less anthropocentric, relationships. These relationships were often formed in dynamic relation to the niches the empire constructed to buffer itself from disturbances both human and ecological. The case studies of these relationships will include the role of livestock in Qing-Mongol diplomatic relations, wild game in the formation of Manchu military identity, mosquitoes in the maintenance of Yunnan indigenous polities, tigers in the disruption of coastal settlements, locusts in the disruption of north China agriculture and silkworms for the augmentation of China proper agriculture.