China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Many historians have come to regard the Tang-Song transition of ca. 755-1127 as a social, economic, and cultural watershed. However, idealization of early Tang as a uniquely cosmopolitan “age of Heavenly Qaghans” has inclined some toward viewing Chinese society in the transition period as more ethnoculturally homogenous and inward-looking, exhibiting attitudes of ethnic exclusivity, isolationism, or proto-nationalism. As a result, the roles of less typically “Chinese” actors or cultures in the transition are often minimized or ignored. This panel takes an alternative approach of using ethnic and cultural diversity as keys to unlock latent aspects of the Tang-Song transition. Maddalena Barenghi surveys the rise of the Shatuo Türks in the context of the resettlement and growth of Turkic military groups of northern Hedong and questions the way in which a “Shatuo identity” came into being. Soojung Han argues that relations between the first Shatuo-ruled imperial dynasty (Later Tang) and the Khitan empire were rooted in their common Inner Asian origins and set an important precedent for the Song-Liao relationship of parity established in 1005. Andrew Chittick explores the political culture and self-representation of the tenth-century Wu and Southern Tang regimes and argues that they reflect the partial revival of a long-marginalized regional identity originating in the early medieval southern dynasties. Shao-yun Yang reassesses late Tang and Northern Song prohibitions on commercial transactions and intermarriages with foreigners and argues for reading them as pragmatic responses to inter-ethnic civil disputes or frontier unrest, rather than as expressions of xenophobia or ethnic nationalism.