11/13/2019: Settling Authority: Sichuanese Farmers in Early 20th Century Eastern Tibet

Wednesday, November 13, 2019

12:45pm – 2:00pm

Suite 503, Chung-wen Shih Conference Room

Elliott School of International Affairs 

1957 E Street, NW, Washington, DC 20052

Following an evaluation of the legacy of the Cold War the author assesses the uncertainties of the post-Cold War era, the weakening of America by its prolonged warfare in the greater Middle East, by the enlarged war on terror and by the financial crisis of 2007-8. Amid the decline of the liberal world order and the rise of China, the author examines Chinese attempts to establish a new order. Analyzing politics in terms of the interplay between global, regional and local developments.

About the Event:
From 1907 to 1911, some 4,000 commoners from the Sichuan Basin ventured west. Enticed by promises of large tracts of presumably uncultivated land, they ascended the Tibetan Plateau seeking new lives for their families — and new benefits for a changing province and Qing China. Their presence was the result of intensifying competition for authority within Kham between the provincial government and Lhasa, and perceived regional pressures from British India and Imperial Russia. Using Kham as a case study, this presentation will focus on the role such state-supported settlement played in the consolidation of provincial rule within a state’s ‘borderland’ regions. It will explore the relationship between shifting conceptions of territoriality within a globalizing structure of international law and how such settlement could substantiate assertions of sovereignty in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

This event is free and open to the public. Lunch will be served.

About the Speaker:
Scott Relyea is assistant professor of Asian history at Appalachian State University. He received his Ph.D. in Chinese history from the University of Chicago and M.A. degrees from the Elliott School of International Affairs at George Washington University and the School of Oriental and African Studies in London. A historian of late imperial and modern China, his research centres on nationalism, state-building, and the transition from imperial to state formation, with a regional focus on the southwest borderlands of China. His recent project, funded by a Fulbright U.S. Scholar grant and a Luce/ACLS Postdoctoral Fellowship in China Studies, focuses on the global circulation of concepts of statecraft and international law, particularly as received in eastern and central Asia, in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Benjamin D. Hopkins (moderator) is the Director of the Sigur Center for Asian Studies, Co-Director of the East Asia National Resource Center, and Associate Professor of History and International Affairs. He is a specialist in modern South Asian history, in particular that of Afghanistan, as well as British imperialism. His first book, The Making of Modern Afghanistan, examined the efforts of the British East India Company to construct an Afghan state in the early part of the nineteenth century and provides a corrective to the history of the so-called ‘Great Game.’ His second book, Fragments of the Afghan Frontier is co-authored with anthropologist Magnus Marsden. He has additionally co-edited Beyond Swat: History, Society and Economy along the Afghanistan-Pakistan Frontier with Magnus Marsden. Hopkins has a forthcoming book on a comparative history of frontiers across empires from Harvard University. His research has been funded by Trinity College, Cambridge, the Nuffield Foundation (UK), the British Academy, the American Institute of Iranian Studies, the Leverhulme Trust and the National University of Singapore. He holds a Ph.D. (Cantab) and was educated at the London School of Economics and Cambridge University.

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