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Public lecture
Reinventing the Manchus: An Imperial People in Post-Imperial China

The 73rd George E Morrison Lecture

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?

A historian of relations between the Chinese heartland and the peoples living in the steppe frontier, Professor Mark Elliott is among the few specialists in the West trained in the use of Manchu-language sources, upon which his first book, The Manchu Way (Stanford, 2001), is largely based. His current research focuses on the connections between the Manchu empire and modern China. Mark Elliott is a Visiting Professorial Fellow at the Australian Centre for China in the World at ANU (January–July 2012).

Speaker/Host: Professor Mark Elliott
Venue: Theatre 1, Hedley Bull Centre (corner of Garran Road & Liversidge Street), ANU
Date: Wednesday, 20 June 2012
Time: 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM
Enquiries: ANU China Institute on 6125 2925, Australian Centre on China in the World on 6125 7088

Professor Mark Elliott
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