© Brill, Leiden, 2006 EJEAS 5.1 Also available online—www.brill.nl 2006008. EJEAS 5.1. Proef 5. 14-7-2006:10.49, page 15. RESCUING THE EMPIRE: CHINESE NATION-BUILDING IN THE TWENTIETH CENTURY 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 o ﬃ cial 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
European Journal of East Asian Studies – Brill
Published: Jan 1, 2006
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