China and Inner Asia
Organized Panel Session
Amidst the mass incarceration of Turkic Muslims in China’s Xinjiang region, recent Chinese history reminds us that state-directed or -sponsored ethnocultural violence is rarely quickly forgotten. Instead, it often serve as enduring sites of contestation over the creation and constitution of the modern nation-state. This panel examines four examples of ethnocultural violence committed along China’s Inner Asian frontiers. Focusing on the suppression of the 1958 Amdo Rebellion, Benno Weiner argues that post-Mao narratives of nationality unity have been ineffective in convincing many Tibetans of their membership in the Chinese nation, in part because they elide the violence that accompanied the region’s forced integration into the PRC. Guldan Salimjan shows that in Xinjiang Kazakh popular memory has responded to the violence of the socialist era by erasing the structural violence that predated the PRC through the reinvention of an authentic, egalitarian, and masculine pastoral past. William Jankowiak takes a new look at the violent persecution of the fictitious Inner Mongolian People’s Party (neirendang) during the Cultural Revolution and the consequences for Mongol-Han relations that linger into the twenty-first century. Finally, by analyzing responses to Reform-era historical fiction, Jing Wang demonstrates how shifting interpretations of the Tongzhi Hui Rebellions act as nodes of contention over multicultural citizenship in an age of increasing Han-centered nationalism and Islamophobia. Taken as a whole, the four papers suggest that the difficulties the Chinese state has encountered forging a multiethnic nation cannot be divorced from the historical memories of ethnocultural violence committed in the recent past.