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Contingent Loyalties

State Agents in the Yunnan Borderlands (1856-1911)

316 pages
Amsterdam University Press
From the mid-nineteenth-century Hui rebellions, which challenged centralised state control, to the early-twentieth-century revolutions, which led to Yunnan’s decades-long independence, local actors shaped the history of Yunnan through their extensive cross-border networks and contradictory roles in the attempted state consolidation of this contested area. Among the local elites, the state agents, both Han and non-Han, acted on behalf of the state in the borderlands’ affairs while seeking the balance between the interests of the state and their own communities. The state agents competed with each other while utilising and wrestling with the state authorities. The dynamic relationship between the state and local actors created another contested facet of modern Yunnan’s transformation. Competing narratives emerged when local actors negotiated and reconstructed their status within the contemporary Chinese nation-state. Bandits became heroes; separatists became patriots; a vibrant regional center became an isolated, exotic, and marginal province of the People’s Republic of China.
Author Bio
Diana Duan teaches history at Brigham Young University-Provo. She is interested in China and Southeast Asia, with focuses on borderlands, ethnic economy and culture, migration, environmental history, and the CCP history. Willem van Schendel, Professor of History, University of Amsterdam and International Institute of Social History, the Netherlands. He works with the history, anthropology and sociology of Asia. Recent works include A History of Bangladesh (2020), Embedding Agricultural Commodities (2017, ed.), The Camera as Witness (2015, with J. L. K. Pachuau). See uva.academia.edu/WillemVanSchendel.