Indiana University Bloomington
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The Politics of Identity in China and Inner Asia
Catalog Number CEUS-U 320/520
Gardner Bovingdon

What does it mean to be Chinese, Uyghur, Hakka, or Khanty?

If identities can be invented, can they be eliminated?

Many people take terms like "Chinese," "Taiwanese," or "Kazakh" to represent straightforward concepts. This course will challenge that assumption. Battles over states and borders have powerfully affected the formation of identities in China and Inner Asia. As rulers and alliances changed, some identities emerged, some merged, and some disappeared. Through a study of theories of identity and modern state formation, combined with careful attention to the history of China and Inner Asia over the last century or so, we will examine the politics of identity in this vast region. We will explore – and explode – such easy associations as identity and descent, language and ethnicity, citizenship and nationality. We will also consider the intersections of nationality, ethnicity, gender, and class in various states in the modern era.