China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

3 - Slaving Practices of Otherness and Gender from the Southern Song through the Yuan Dynasty

Thursday, March 22
7:30 PM - 9:30 PM
Location: Roosevelt Room 2, Exhibit Level

As the precipitating event leading directly to the creation of the Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279), the Jingkang Incident of September 1125 to March 1127 continues to impinge heavily on Chinese cultural consciousness as an unremittingly tragic episode. A critical but heretofore relatively unaddressed element of this historical persistence of the Jingkang Incident consists of the fact that so many Chinese who survived the actual assault itself suffered abduction, captivity, and defacto enslavement at the hands of the invading armies of the Jurchen Jin dynasty (1115-1234). Similarly, by the time of the formal establishment of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), the Mongols had already become well engaged in China and elsewhere in a surprisingly robust acquisition of and thriving trade in non-Chinese as well as Chinese slaves. Conspicuous among the numerous examples of the Mongol pursuit of the enslavement of foreigners is that involving the trafficking in Kipchak Turk fighters, who were purchased as mamlūk or slave warriors throughout West Asia but acquired mostly by the rival Mamlūk Sultanate of Egypt (1250-1517). During the late Yuan, the Mongols furthermore indulged in the procurement of Korean women—mainly as concubines qua maidservants—during the declining last century of the vassal Goryeo dynasty (918-1392). However, in seeking to avoid any consideration of this phenomenon in a vacuum, this paper concludes with some cautious deliberations on the extent of correlation, intersection, and even interface between Jurchen and Mongol practices in enslavement and those long maintained by the ethnic Han majority of China over time.

Don Wyatt

Middlebury College, Vermont

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