The Chinese Nation and Nationalities as a Process of Collaborative Knowledge Production

Part of the New Directions in East Asian History book series (NDEAH)


The introductory essay presents the main theoretical assumption of the book, which is to understand the Chinese national question in the context of the state’s assertion of political, and quest for national, integration in the twentieth century. The state produced valid knowledge and hegemonic discourse about the legitimacy of a unified, multi-nationality China, yet the process required the active collaboration of historians, anthropologists, and ethnologists who engaged modern theories and methodologies and shared the political vision of a modern Chinese nation. The cultural production, which was fraught with internal disputes, was also a process in that the intellectuals claimed their own position as the producer of knowledge and researcher/investigator of non-Han minority peoples, and sometimes challengers of the state discourse. This process is more complicated than a one-directional “civilizing project.”

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2019

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Allegheny CollegeMeadvilleUSA

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