China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
This panel explores the roots of modern Chinese ethnicity by examining the intersection of indigeneity and conceptions of communal identity in Northeast China before the advent of ethnicity as the principal legal denominator. The four papers in this panel speak to similar concerns as other researchers promoting "indigenous person" (tuzhumin) as a replacement term for "ethnic minority" (shaoshu minzu) and those who investigate ethnic policies critically. Akira Yanagisawa examines how non-Han groups formed their identities based on migration and settlement before the significant waves of migration by Han people to Heilongjiang occurred in the late nineteenth century. Jinxin Qi demonstrates how in that same period, the naval battalions (shuishi ying), which were constituted primarily of people who identified as Han, and the Hanjun corps of the Qing Eight Banners, both stationed in Heilongjiang, were developing their social orders and identities in relation to Han people native to Mukden (Shengjing) and the Jilin region. Yingzi Wang discusses how the Chinese political center retained administrative structures in Mukden, Jilin, and Heilongjiang during the New Governance (Xinzheng) period that reflects the endurance of early and mid Qing mechanisms of political control. Loretta Kim complements Wang's research with a specific case study of the Kumar Route (Kuma'er lu) in Heilongjiang and how officials of the Eight Banners and their immediate descendants adapted to the transition from empire to nation by maintaining their authority as social leaders of their communities and adopting new identities to complement the changing rhetoric of political classification.