China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
The invention of the modern national subject along the Inner Asian frontiers of the Qing Empire and Tsarist Russia was a profoundly creative and contested process. In the imperial ruins, populations were invented, ethnicities (re-)imagined, territories (re-)defined, and imperial subjects fashioned into a citizenry. In the anachronistic view of most area studies scholarship, which remain stubbornly state-centric, such were the beginnings of the modern social imagination and political administration of contemporary Buryat, Mongol, and Tibetan communities. This panel convenes to complicate the narrative, adopting the little-studied perspectives of the major competing source of economic and cultural capital to emergent socialist states in early-20th century Inner Asia: the Buddhist monastery. Drawing upon monastic archives and the literary traces of prominent monastic authors of the day, the papers of this panel examine the competing and overlapping spaces between the sovereign, as well as simultaneously operating realms of the countermodern (King 2019) found in local and creative agencies constructing public spaces, memories, and sources of authority. This panel thus asks collectively: how were the ruins of empire spatialized differently than by the state in the decades leading to the mass erasure of monastic institutions within the Soviet Union, the Mongolian People's Republic, and the People's Republic of China? How were competing spatialities of the sovereign and the public imposed and practiced? How were they inhabited, embodied, and felt?
King, Matthew W. Ocean of Milk, Ocean of Blood: A Mongolian Monk in the Ruins of the Qing Empire. New York: Columbia University Press, 2019.