China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The recent surge of oppressive ethnic and religious policies around the world has raised questions on what ethnicity, religion, and geographical boundaries mean, and invite us to examine the past. Historically, the multi-ethnic, multi-cultural and multi-religious societies formed under Mongol and Manchu rule over China —namely the Yuan dynasty (1260 to 1368) and the Qing dynasty (1644-1912) — have offered valuable examples worthy of investigation. However, majority of former works covering these concepts have often focused on the rulers - the Mongols and Manchus, thus leaving room for discussions on minor historical actors who were not always the powerful and privileged groups within the empire. The four presentation in our panel switches the focus on to these lesser groups - the Manchus before the conquest of China who were yet to be the dominant ethnicities (Park); the Chinese that moved to Tibet and became the minorities among the Tibet majority (Zhang); the Chinese speaking Muslims and their idea of religion (Unno), and the minor religions - Muslims, Jews, Confucians among other - in the Yuan (Cho). Through a close examination of textual and archival sources from various languages, our panel demonstrates that the concept of religion, ethnicity, and geographical boundaries were often fluid, contested and challenged over time. The presentations will enable us to see the empires from multiple perspectives, and contributed to our understanding of the various elements constituting diversity, both in the past and present.