The Manchus, we commonly read, began a process of irreversible Sinification shortly after their victory of 1644 and steered in terminable decline towards ethnic assimilation before they were finally relegated to the history books in 1911. The May Fourth generation regarded Manchus as alien imperialists, who subdued the vitality of the Han-Chinese majority, so that another wave of alien imperialists could force China into a straight-jacket of Unequal Treaties. However, since the 1980s a far more nuanced picture is emerging, based on hitherto unknown archival documents in Manchu. The present volume, with its state-of-the-art selection of academic articles in English, exemplifies this latest stage in the historical analysis of the Manchus in modern Chinese history, characterised by the reversal of previous ideological considerations.
Critical Readings publications are a one-stop reference resource in English, presenting high quality scholarship on one subject area assembled by experts in the field. By selecting the best material published to-date from a huge bank of sources, and contextualizing it thematically, the editor creates a unique tool for rapid access not only to seminal works but also to less familiar texts.
Lars Peter Laamann, PhD (2001), is lecturer in history at the School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London). The author's interests focus on popular religion and healing in Qing China, as well as on the creation of the welfare ideal in modern China. Another field of research is the role of religion in Manchu society. Recent publications include
Christian Heretics in Late Imperial China (Routledge, 2006) and
Narcotic Culture (Hurst, 2004, co-authored with F.Dikötter and Zhou Xun).
This book would appeal to specialists in Qing history, ethnographic and anthropological audiences, students of late imperial China, as well as academic librarians. The volume is centred on history, although the extended subject range extends from anthropology and religion to linguistics.