Managing the Frontiers: Knowledge Production of Law and Ethnicity on China’s Coastal and Internal Frontiers

Conference: AAS-in-Asia2020 (AAS-in-Asia2020)
Title: Managing the Frontiers: Knowledge Production of Law and Ethnicity on China’s Coastal and Internal Frontiers
Stream: History
Presentation Type: Panel Presentation
Fusheng Luo, The University of Michigan, United States (organizer)
Yuan Tian, University of Chicago, United States (co-organizer, presenter)
Wang Liping, Peking University, China (presenter)
Ka-To Chan, The University of Hong Kong, China (presenter)
Matthew Sommer, Stanford University, United States (chair)


Frontier and borderland are arenas where imperial powers were projected, overlapped, contested. Across China’s frontiers from the southeast coast to Northeast Asia, new knowledge about law, ethnicity, and sovereignty were being produced and contested among a variety of powers. This panel integrates two types of different yet closely related frontier contact zones: the coastal frontier of Shanghai and the internal frontier of the Manchuria-Mongolia border. We examine the interactions between indigenous and foreign modes of knowledge about law, ethnic classification, and sovereignty on these frontier zones. We invite historians and sociologists to conduct an interdisciplinary discussion of frontier governance and knowledge production on China’s frontier zones. The first two papers focus on Shanghai, a coastal port which we consider as a node where the Qing Empire and other Imperial powers overlapped. The first paper, excavating the issue of land shengke, explores the way in which disputes over riparian rights between the Qing and other powers were resolved in a plural legal environment. The second paper, entitled “Death of a Journalist: Debating Legal Cruelty in Late Qing,” examines how debates over extraterritoriality and Chinese legal cruelty were mediated by global knowledge of law at the turn of the twentieth century. The third paper, entitled “From Mongol affiliate to Republic constituent: the ethnic category of the Daur people in the genealogy of knowledge contests,” provides a genealogical account for the contested knowledge over ethnic categorization of the Daur people in Northeast Asia between China and Soviet Union.