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Magnus Fiskesjö

Abstract

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.

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Magnus Fiskesjö

Abstract

This paper takes modern China's dilemma of how to deal with the legacy of its imperial past as the starting point for a discussion of the drawn-out re-creation of China in the twentieth century. The particular focus is on the important role of non-Han ethnic minorities in this process. It is pointed out that the non-recognition and forced assimilation of all such minorities, in favour of a unified citizenship on an imagined European, American or Japanese model, was actually considered as a serious alternative and favoured by many Chinese nation-builders in the wake of the overthrow of the last imperial dynasty in 1911. The article then proceeds to a discussion of why, on the contrary, ethnic minorities should instead have been formally identified and in some cases even actively organised as official minorities, recognised and incorporated into the state structure, as happened after 1949. Based on the formal and symbolic qualities of the constitution of these minorities, it is argued that new China is also a new formulation of the imperial Chinese model, which resurrects the corollary idea of civilisation as a transformative force that requires a primitive, backward periphery as its object.

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Magnus Fiskesjö

Abstract

The Wa lands continue to be seized upon in the Chinese imagination, and elsewhere too, as representing what is dangerous and off limits. This is one important underlying reason why these lands, located in between China and Burma, have been some of the least-travelled areas on China's southwestern borders during most of the last few centuries. In fact, these areas have long been regarded as impenetrable for outsider travellers unless assisted by a full-fledged army, its gunpowder dry and its guns loaded. In the last years of the nineteenth century, the British occupation of Burma as well as increasing opium trade prompted increases in the numbers of Chinese and other visitors: officials, soldiers, traders, and so on. The first attempt at delineating a Burma-China border having failed, a second, joint British-Chinese survey was launched and almost completed in the late 1930s. These activities prompted a flurry of patriotic-scholarly efforts to claim these borderlands for the reconstituted Chinese state, which continued into the second half of the twentieth century. This brief paper explores some of the conflicting views of the various kinds of travellers and locals, including early Chinese judgements of the Wa, the nationalistic and scientistic travellers and writers of the 1930s, as well as the teams of ethnologists and soldiers dispatched there in the 1950s and 1960s – notably also Alan Winnington, the famous British correspondent for the Morning Star, and his Wa reception.