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Title: From Empire to Nation : the politics of language in Manchuria (1890-1911)
Author: He, Jiani
ISNI:       0000 0004 7426 5167
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2018
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This thesis explores the issues of language and power in the Qing Empire’s (1644-1911) northeastern borderlands within the larger context of political reforms in late Qing China between 1890 and 1911. To the present, much research on the history of language in late Qing China continues to fall within the framework of national language. Drawing on Manchu and Chinese sources, this thesis argues that the Qing emperors devised a multilingual regime to recreate the imperial polyglot reality and to rule a purposefully diverse but unifying empire. From the seventeenth century, the Qing emperors maintained the special Manchu-Mongol relations by adopting Manchu and Mongolian as the two official languages, restricting the influence of Chinese, and promoting Tibetan in a religious context in the Jirim League. From the 1890s, the Jirim League witnessed a language contest between Manchu, Mongol, Chinese, Japanese and Russian powers which strove to legitimize and maintain their control over the Jirim Mongols. Under the influence of European and Japanese language ideologies, the Qing Empire fostered the learning of Chinese in order to recreate the Jirim Mongols as modern nationals in an integrated China under a constitutional monarchy. Meanwhile, the Qing Empire preserved Manchu and Mongolian, which demonstrated the Manchu characteristic of the constitutional monarchy in a wave of Chinese nationalism. However, the revised language regime undermined the Jirim Mongols’ power and challenged their special position in the traditional Manchu-Mongol relations, which caused disunity and disorder in the borderlands. This thesis challenges the notion of language reform as a linear progress towards Chinese national monolingualism. It demonstrates the political and ritual role of Manchu and Mongolian beyond their communicative and documentary functions, and unfolds the power of language pluralism in Chinese nationalist discourse from a non-Chinese and peripheral perspective. By investigating how ethnic, national, and imperialist powers interacted with one another, this thesis allows us to understand the integration of Manchuria into modern China, East Asia, and the world from a different perspective.
Supervisor: van de Ven, Hans Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Language reform ; Qing multilingualism ; Manchuria ; The Jirim League ; The Manchu Language ; Late Qing Reform