On the ‘Raw’ and the ‘Cooked’ Barbarians of Imperial China

in Inner Asia
Restricted Access
Get Access to Full Text
Rent on DeepDyve

Have an Access Token?

Enter your access token to activate and access content online.

Please login and go to your personal user account to enter your access token.


Have Institutional Access?

Access content through your institution. Any other coaching guidance?



This paper examines the terms ‘Raw’ and ‘Cooked’ (sheng and shu) as applied to China’s own Barbarians. First, a review of the more general Chinese conceptions of ‘barbarians’ suggests that the very idea of the civilisation of China (Zhongguo, the ‘central state’) necessarily and continuously required ‘the barbarians’ on the periphery as its corollary. Next, five cases from late imperial Chinese ‘inner frontiers’ (in Hainan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Taiwan and Hunan) are discussed as actual examples of how certain ‘barbarians’ were divided into the ‘Raw’ and the ‘Cooked’. The vast expansion of the imperial state brought about the incorporation of large numbers of former outsiders, but in certain cases people were split into those set to become regular (e.g. liang, ‘good’) Chinese subjects, and those still beyond the pale of civilisation (e.g. the ‘Raw’). Noting how the ‘Raw’ were persistently designated ‘Raw’ even as they, too, actually became deeply implicated in the civilised realm, the paper suggests that these late imperial ‘last barbarians’ were made to persist because of their precious position at the very foundation of imperial sovereignty.

On the ‘Raw’ and the ‘Cooked’ Barbarians of Imperial China

in Inner Asia


Index Card

Content Metrics

Content Metrics

All Time Past Year Past 30 Days
Abstract Views 55 55 53
Full Text Views 18 18 18
PDF Downloads 2 2 2
EPUB Downloads 0 0 0