Imperial chinese relations with nomadic groups

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    Abstract

    This chapter assesses the nomad-sedentary interface in the long-run context of Imperial China. I focus on the late imperial Ming and Qing dynasties. I identify three distinct ideal-type forms of nomadic groups. The first comprises the nomadic peoples of the Inner Asian Steppe, which confronted China on its non-Western frontier, and which occasionally constituted themselves as rival empires. The second comprises the smaller upland nomadic and migratory peoples, chiefly on China’s southern peripheries. These were not threats per se, but were still habitually constructed as “others” by the Chinese state. The third group, not traditionally, parsed as nomads, were pirates: seagoing social groupings on China’s southeastern coastlines that occasionally organized themselves at scale, controlling territory, levying taxes, and praying on the rural margins of the Chinese state. By degrees, successive dynasties proved adept at regulating relations with all three-likely doing so with greater flexibility than modern states.
    Original languageEnglish
    Title of host publicationNomad-State Relationships in International Relations: Before and After Borders
    Editors Jamie Levin
    Place of PublicationLondon
    PublisherPalgrave Macmillan Ltd
    Pages197-216
    Edition1
    ISBN (Print)978-3030280529
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 2020

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