‘Reinventing the Manchus: An Imperial People in Post-Imperial China’, the Seventy-third George E. Morrison Lecture in June 2012 by Mark Elliott, Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History at the Harvard University and CIW Professorial Fellow.
On 20 June 2012, Mark Elliott, Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History at the Harvard University and CIW Professorial Fellow, presented the Seventy-third George E. Morrison Lecture on Ethnology. The title of his oration was: ‘Reinventing the Manchus: An Imperial People in Post-Imperial China’, a filmed version of which is available here. The text of the lecture will be published in the e-journal China Heritage Quarterly.
Morrison’s household staff and their families, Peking, 1905
The synopsis of Professor Elliott’s Morrison oration introduces the topic in the following way:
With the 1911 overthrow of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), many predicted that the dynasty’s ethnic founders, the Manchus, would soon be swallowed up by the Han majority – the final act in a long process of acculturation that began in 1644, which even the long sequestration of the conquerors in walled garrisons could not prevent. The destruction of those walls, and continued prejudice against them in the first half of the 1900s, created a highly adverse environment for people wishing to go on being ‘Manchu’. Facing dwindling numbers, and at first denied official status as a minority nationality, their fate appeared even more uncertain in the early years of the People’s Republic of China. All the more astonishing, then, that the Manchus not only survived as an identity group, but are today the second most numerous of China’s fifty-five minority nationalities.
This lecture reconstructs that story and takes up the problem of the paradoxical survival of the Manchus into the twenty-first century to ask two simple questions: How is it that the Manchus are still with us today, when they should have vanished decades ago? And what does their continued existence mean for modern China?
For more on The George E. Morrison Lectures on Ethnology, see this link.
Author of The Manchu Way (Stanford, 2001), Professor Elliott is the Mark Schwartz Professor of Chinese and Inner Asian History, Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University. He was the inaugural CIW Professorial Fellow (January-July 2012).
Mark Elliott’s time at ANU in 2012 was supported in part by Geremie R. Barmé’s Australian Research Council grant on Manchu Bannermen and Qing history. Mark worked with Professor Ding Yizhuang 定宜庄, a noted Qing historian with the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, who also spent a period in Canberra. Their collaborative project on Manchus in twentieth-century Chinese will be published as a monograph.