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Course Description

This course examines the history of China’s borderlands from the second century BCE to the present, with an emphasis on the transformation of the frontiers and buffer zones of the Qing empire into the border regions of territorially bounded Chinese nation-state. This represents an important and often neglected dimension of emergence of the global system of nation-states in the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. It not only affects the peoples and lands of these territories, but also the self-conception of the people in the core regions. We will examine a wide range of geographical areas, such as Taiwan, Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang, and Southwest China, in terms of international rivalries, inter-communal relationships, and historical and spatial imaginaries. We will use a variety of approaches such as the theory of the frontier, the history of anthropology, and concepts from the study of nationalism and imperialism to illustrate the problems. 

Land of China

China stretches for about 3,250 miles (5,250 km) from east to west and 3,400 miles (5,500 km) from north to south. Its land frontier is about 12,400 miles (20,000 km) in length, and its coastline extends for some 8,700 miles (14,000 km). The country is bounded by Mongolia to the north; Russia and North Korea to the northeast; the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea to the east; the South China Sea to the southeast; VietnamLaosMyanmar (Burma), IndiaBhutan, and Nepal to the south; Pakistan to the southwest; and AfghanistanTajikistanKyrgyzstan, and Kazakhstan to the west. In addition to the 14 countries that border directly on it, China also faces South Korea and Japan, across the Yellow Sea, and the Philippines, which lie beyond the South China Sea.

("China." Britannica Academic, Encyclopædia Britannica, 1 Nov. 2021.

Map (est. time between 1800-1916) from the University of California, San Diego

China. Images, n.d.

Asian & Asian American Studies Librarian

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Julie Wang
LN 2301