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Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (review)

Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (review) Reviews 225 ThomasS.Mullaney.Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China.Stanford,CA:StanfordUniversityPress,2011.256pp. Hardcover$49.95,isbn978-0-520-26278-2. ThefirstthoroughstudyoftheclassificationofthePeople'sRepublicofChina (PRC)minoritynationalities(minzu),Mullaney'sextraordinaryreconstructionof thePRCethnicrecognitionprocessofthe1950ssignificantlydecipherswhyand howthecurrentfifty-fiveminoritynationalitieswereidentified,andbywhomand bywhattheidentificationofthemwasdetermined.Selectingthe1954recognition projectofYunnan--"thesinglemostcomplexpiecewithinChina'sethnonational puzzle"(p.9)--toscrutinizethenationwideclassificationthatresultedincategorizingfifty-fiveminoritynationalities,Mullaneydisclosesoneofthemostcrucial earlyPRCstateprojects:thestateeffortstolearnaboutitsownpopulationand thentoclassifyit,basedonthestudiesofhistory,ethnology,andlinguistics.Inthe caseofYunnan,twenty-fivenationalitieswereidentifiedamongmorethan200 namesofpeople(p.3). Mullaney'scomprehensiveanalysisisbroadlybasedonChina'slonghistoryof borderlandsettlements,itstwentieth-centurynationalistimpulse,culturalguidelinesfortheidentificationcriteria,participatingresearchers'fieldworkmethods, andgovernment-academiccommunications--allhavebeensummarizedinhis introduction.Hisconscientiousresearchreliesonthefirsthandinformationoffive uniquesources,whichwererarely,ifatall,usedbeforehim.Thesearethe1953­ 1954populationcensus;hand-writtenprojectreports,writtenbyprimaryproject researchers(theChineseethnologistsandlinguists);scholar-by-scholarand article-by-articleresearch;HenryRodolphDavies's1909ethnologicalwritings, whichtheChinesefollowedasamodel;andtheface-to-faceinterviewsofthefive researchersoftheYunnanclassificationteam.Inhisreviewofthecentury-long ChineseendeavorfrombothsocialscientistsandgovernmenttocategorizeChina's diversepopulation,stagesofthetwentiethcentury--namelythelastyearsofthe Qing,theRepublican,andGuomindangperiods,andthePRCfromitsfirstdecade topost-Maoera--areconnectedtogivetheethnicrecognitionofthe1950sabroad historicalcontext. Chapter1examinedtheethniccrisisineachstageofthetwentiethcentury andaddressedthecriticalissueofwhythepoliciestowardnationalminorities couldhelptheCommunistPartymove"fromarevolutionaryforcetothelegitimategovernment"(p.18).Thecomplicatedprocessofcategorizingpeoplewas discussedwithdetailsofpeople'sself-categoryversusthecategorygiventothem, andChina'sethnicpluralityversusitspoliticalunity. FollowinghisstatementintheintroductionthattheChineseethnologistsand linguists,ratherthanthepartyandgovernment,"designedtheblueprintsofethnic diversityinYunnan"(p.11),chapter2payscloseattentiontothe"PRCstate'ssocial scientificadvisors"(p.65)andtheirinvolvementintherecognitionproject.This © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 226 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.2,2011 differentiateshisstudyfromthedominantviewpointinpreviousstudiesthathas treatedthePRCethnicclassificationasacompletelypoliticalmoveoftheChinese CommunistPartyanddoesnotexplainwhyandhowthepartycouldmakethe 1950s'ethnotaxonomy. TracingtheGuomindangapproachtothenationalityquestionandtheprePRCcommunicationbetweenacademicsandstate,chapter3demonstratesthe changefromtheNationalistsingular"Zhonghuaminzu"totheCommunist "multi-minzuChina"(p.80).ItdiscussesthePRCscholars'rejectionofStalin's definitionofnationalitiesandtheircreationoftheethniccategoriesbasedona conceptofethnicpotential,whichplayedacentralroleintheclassificationproject ofthe1950s. Chapter4discussesthefieldworkmethodsoftheYunnanteam,whichheavily followedtheMaomodelofinvestigationmeetingsinYan'an.Itaddressesthe problemsthattheclassificationteamfaced.Complicationscouldcomefromthe realitythatafterapeopleself-identifiedthemselvesasaminoritygroup,that self-identitywasexaminedbyboththeacademicscholarsandthestateofficialsfor adetermination.Becauseofstateinterventionintotheacademicresearchers' taxonomicrecommendations,theeventualclassification,Mullaneystates,was"the marriagebetweensocialscientificandstatesocialistpractice"(p.118). Chapter5statesthattheChinainthepost-classificationerabecame"averitablemosaic,"andminorityrepresentationbecamegreater"than[in]anyChinese regimeinhistory"(p.120),basedonMullaney'sexaminationoftheprocessesof inscriptionandelaboration,whichcalibratedthe"state'sethnotaxonomicorthodoxy"(p.122).Thecategorization,classification,andidentificationofthefifty-five minoritynationalities,accordingtoMullaney,havedistinguishedthePRCfrom theChinaunderJiangJieshi,whoadvocatedthepolicyofonepeople,andthe Chinaof"fivepeople,"whichwasproposedbySunZhongshanwitha"northerncentricconceptualization"(p.121).Thesocialhistoryresearchinvestigationsofthe post-Maotime,whichproducedminorityhistoryseriesanddocumentaryfilms, havefurtherreproduced,ratherthanproblematized,thefifty-six-minzumodel.At thesametime,Chinahasbeendealingwithissuesfromthenumerousunrecognizedgroups,nolessthanintheprocessoftheclassificationofthe1950s.China's currentsolutionoftheseissuesistonamethesegroupsaszuqun (ethnicgroups) ratherthanminzu (nationalities).Thus,thefifty-six-minzumodelremains unchanged. Mullaney'sconclusiononthe"ChineseethnicityandtheChinesenation-state" (p.134)isbasedonboththesuccessandtheunresolvedissuesinthenationalities' recognition.HisworkleadsthereadersthroughthevitalstageofthePRCethnic recognitiontaskofthe1950sandthePRCChinasincethen.Placingtheethnic classification"withinthebroaderhistoryofChina'spostimperialtransition" (p. 20),MullaneyconvincinglyshowsthatidentificationofChina'sdiverseethnic populationwasanurgentneedaroundthefoundingofthePeople'sRepublicof Reviews 227 China.Thefifty-six-minzumodel,whichwasestablishedintherecognitionproject inthe1950s,hasalwaysbeenquestionedfrombothinsideandoutsideChina.The PRCstatehasbeenlookingforestablishingChinaasastronglyunitedindependentnationwithaclarifieddefinitionofitshighlydiversepopulation.When Mullaneypreciselyconcludesthat"theChinesestatehasbeenremarkablysuccessfulinbringing`convergence'betweenethnotaxonimictheoryandpractice"(p.13), hedoesnotignoreChina'snationalities'problemsbutplacethenationalityissues inthegivenhistoryandextremecomplexityofChina'spopulationinborderlands. "Theclassification,"accordingtotheauthor,"willforeverconstituteavitalpartof Chinesehistory"(p.136). Mullaney'sstudyofChina'sminoritynationalitiesuntanglestwothreadsinthe PRCethnicclassificationprocess:theacademicthreadusingethno-linguistic studiesbasedonChineseethnicthinking(theinfluencefromtheWesternsocial sciencesispartofthatethnicthinkinginthe1950s)andthepoliticalthreadofstate policies.Thestatefinallydeterminedthefifty-sixnationalitiesbutcouldnotdoso withoutscholars'academicstudies.Mullaney,thus,givesafullrecognitionofthe academiccontribution,oftenasthebaseofpolicymaking,totheoverallPRC classificationandidentificationprojects. AfterthepublicationofMullaney'svolume,thePRC'sfifty-six-minzumodelis nolongeramyth.WhenonequestionswhythePRCgovernmentdemonstrates Chinatotheworldbyhighlightingitsfifty-six-minzumodel(whichactually highlightsthefifty-fiveminoritynationalities)andwhysuchamodelhasbecome ubiquitousinChinesesociety,suchasonYouTube(asdiscussedinpage127), Mullaney'sbookservesasthefirstreferencebookforanswers.Thisvolumeshould becelebratedasthetransitionfromnationality-mythintonationality-knowledge inthefieldofChinesestudies. ChiaNing Chia Ning is a professor of history at Central College in Pella, Iowa. WilliamH.NienhauserJr.Tang Dynasty Tales: A Guided Reader. Hackensack,NJ:WorldScientificPublishingCo.,2010.xxv,340pp. © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Hardcover$58.00,isbn978-981-4287-28-9. Overthecourseofthepastcentury,scholarshavepaidincreasingattentionto Tangdynastytalesandanecdotes--bothtotheirartistryasindividualworks of literatureandtotheirplaceinthelargernarrativeofthehistoryofChinese http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png China Review International University of Hawai'I Press

Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (review)

China Review International , Volume 18 (2) – Sep 19, 2011

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Abstract

Reviews 225 ThomasS.Mullaney.Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China.Stanford,CA:StanfordUniversityPress,2011.256pp. Hardcover$49.95,isbn978-0-520-26278-2. ThefirstthoroughstudyoftheclassificationofthePeople'sRepublicofChina (PRC)minoritynationalities(minzu),Mullaney'sextraordinaryreconstructionof thePRCethnicrecognitionprocessofthe1950ssignificantlydecipherswhyand howthecurrentfifty-fiveminoritynationalitieswereidentified,andbywhomand bywhattheidentificationofthemwasdetermined.Selectingthe1954recognition projectofYunnan--"thesinglemostcomplexpiecewithinChina'sethnonational puzzle"(p.9)--toscrutinizethenationwideclassificationthatresultedincategorizingfifty-fiveminoritynationalities,Mullaneydisclosesoneofthemostcrucial earlyPRCstateprojects:thestateeffortstolearnaboutitsownpopulationand thentoclassifyit,basedonthestudiesofhistory,ethnology,andlinguistics.Inthe caseofYunnan,twenty-fivenationalitieswereidentifiedamongmorethan200 namesofpeople(p.3). Mullaney'scomprehensiveanalysisisbroadlybasedonChina'slonghistoryof borderlandsettlements,itstwentieth-centurynationalistimpulse,culturalguidelinesfortheidentificationcriteria,participatingresearchers'fieldworkmethods, andgovernment-academiccommunications--allhavebeensummarizedinhis introduction.Hisconscientiousresearchreliesonthefirsthandinformationoffive uniquesources,whichwererarely,ifatall,usedbeforehim.Thesearethe1953­ 1954populationcensus;hand-writtenprojectreports,writtenbyprimaryproject researchers(theChineseethnologistsandlinguists);scholar-by-scholarand article-by-articleresearch;HenryRodolphDavies's1909ethnologicalwritings, whichtheChinesefollowedasamodel;andtheface-to-faceinterviewsofthefive researchersoftheYunnanclassificationteam.Inhisreviewofthecentury-long ChineseendeavorfrombothsocialscientistsandgovernmenttocategorizeChina's diversepopulation,stagesofthetwentiethcentury--namelythelastyearsofthe Qing,theRepublican,andGuomindangperiods,andthePRCfromitsfirstdecade topost-Maoera--areconnectedtogivetheethnicrecognitionofthe1950sabroad historicalcontext. Chapter1examinedtheethniccrisisineachstageofthetwentiethcentury andaddressedthecriticalissueofwhythepoliciestowardnationalminorities couldhelptheCommunistPartymove"fromarevolutionaryforcetothelegitimategovernment"(p.18).Thecomplicatedprocessofcategorizingpeoplewas discussedwithdetailsofpeople'sself-categoryversusthecategorygiventothem, andChina'sethnicpluralityversusitspoliticalunity. FollowinghisstatementintheintroductionthattheChineseethnologistsand linguists,ratherthanthepartyandgovernment,"designedtheblueprintsofethnic diversityinYunnan"(p.11),chapter2payscloseattentiontothe"PRCstate'ssocial scientificadvisors"(p.65)andtheirinvolvementintherecognitionproject.This © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press 226 ChinaReviewInternational:Vol.18,No.2,2011 differentiateshisstudyfromthedominantviewpointinpreviousstudiesthathas treatedthePRCethnicclassificationasacompletelypoliticalmoveoftheChinese CommunistPartyanddoesnotexplainwhyandhowthepartycouldmakethe 1950s'ethnotaxonomy. TracingtheGuomindangapproachtothenationalityquestionandtheprePRCcommunicationbetweenacademicsandstate,chapter3demonstratesthe changefromtheNationalistsingular"Zhonghuaminzu"totheCommunist "multi-minzuChina"(p.80).ItdiscussesthePRCscholars'rejectionofStalin's definitionofnationalitiesandtheircreationoftheethniccategoriesbasedona conceptofethnicpotential,whichplayedacentralroleintheclassificationproject ofthe1950s. Chapter4discussesthefieldworkmethodsoftheYunnanteam,whichheavily followedtheMaomodelofinvestigationmeetingsinYan'an.Itaddressesthe problemsthattheclassificationteamfaced.Complicationscouldcomefromthe realitythatafterapeopleself-identifiedthemselvesasaminoritygroup,that self-identitywasexaminedbyboththeacademicscholarsandthestateofficialsfor adetermination.Becauseofstateinterventionintotheacademicresearchers' taxonomicrecommendations,theeventualclassification,Mullaneystates,was"the marriagebetweensocialscientificandstatesocialistpractice"(p.118). Chapter5statesthattheChinainthepost-classificationerabecame"averitablemosaic,"andminorityrepresentationbecamegreater"than[in]anyChinese regimeinhistory"(p.120),basedonMullaney'sexaminationoftheprocessesof inscriptionandelaboration,whichcalibratedthe"state'sethnotaxonomicorthodoxy"(p.122).Thecategorization,classification,andidentificationofthefifty-five minoritynationalities,accordingtoMullaney,havedistinguishedthePRCfrom theChinaunderJiangJieshi,whoadvocatedthepolicyofonepeople,andthe Chinaof"fivepeople,"whichwasproposedbySunZhongshanwitha"northerncentricconceptualization"(p.121).Thesocialhistoryresearchinvestigationsofthe post-Maotime,whichproducedminorityhistoryseriesanddocumentaryfilms, havefurtherreproduced,ratherthanproblematized,thefifty-six-minzumodel.At thesametime,Chinahasbeendealingwithissuesfromthenumerousunrecognizedgroups,nolessthanintheprocessoftheclassificationofthe1950s.China's currentsolutionoftheseissuesistonamethesegroupsaszuqun (ethnicgroups) ratherthanminzu (nationalities).Thus,thefifty-six-minzumodelremains unchanged. Mullaney'sconclusiononthe"ChineseethnicityandtheChinesenation-state" (p.134)isbasedonboththesuccessandtheunresolvedissuesinthenationalities' recognition.HisworkleadsthereadersthroughthevitalstageofthePRCethnic recognitiontaskofthe1950sandthePRCChinasincethen.Placingtheethnic classification"withinthebroaderhistoryofChina'spostimperialtransition" (p. 20),MullaneyconvincinglyshowsthatidentificationofChina'sdiverseethnic populationwasanurgentneedaroundthefoundingofthePeople'sRepublicof Reviews 227 China.Thefifty-six-minzumodel,whichwasestablishedintherecognitionproject inthe1950s,hasalwaysbeenquestionedfrombothinsideandoutsideChina.The PRCstatehasbeenlookingforestablishingChinaasastronglyunitedindependentnationwithaclarifieddefinitionofitshighlydiversepopulation.When Mullaneypreciselyconcludesthat"theChinesestatehasbeenremarkablysuccessfulinbringing`convergence'betweenethnotaxonimictheoryandpractice"(p.13), hedoesnotignoreChina'snationalities'problemsbutplacethenationalityissues inthegivenhistoryandextremecomplexityofChina'spopulationinborderlands. "Theclassification,"accordingtotheauthor,"willforeverconstituteavitalpartof Chinesehistory"(p.136). Mullaney'sstudyofChina'sminoritynationalitiesuntanglestwothreadsinthe PRCethnicclassificationprocess:theacademicthreadusingethno-linguistic studiesbasedonChineseethnicthinking(theinfluencefromtheWesternsocial sciencesispartofthatethnicthinkinginthe1950s)andthepoliticalthreadofstate policies.Thestatefinallydeterminedthefifty-sixnationalitiesbutcouldnotdoso withoutscholars'academicstudies.Mullaney,thus,givesafullrecognitionofthe academiccontribution,oftenasthebaseofpolicymaking,totheoverallPRC classificationandidentificationprojects. AfterthepublicationofMullaney'svolume,thePRC'sfifty-six-minzumodelis nolongeramyth.WhenonequestionswhythePRCgovernmentdemonstrates Chinatotheworldbyhighlightingitsfifty-six-minzumodel(whichactually highlightsthefifty-fiveminoritynationalities)andwhysuchamodelhasbecome ubiquitousinChinesesociety,suchasonYouTube(asdiscussedinpage127), Mullaney'sbookservesasthefirstreferencebookforanswers.Thisvolumeshould becelebratedasthetransitionfromnationality-mythintonationality-knowledge inthefieldofChinesestudies. ChiaNing Chia Ning is a professor of history at Central College in Pella, Iowa. WilliamH.NienhauserJr.Tang Dynasty Tales: A Guided Reader. Hackensack,NJ:WorldScientificPublishingCo.,2010.xxv,340pp. © 2012 by University of Hawai`i Press Hardcover$58.00,isbn978-981-4287-28-9. Overthecourseofthepastcentury,scholarshavepaidincreasingattentionto Tangdynastytalesandanecdotes--bothtotheirartistryasindividualworks of literatureandtotheirplaceinthelargernarrativeofthehistoryofChinese

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China Review InternationalUniversity of Hawai'I Press

Published: Sep 19, 2011

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