Ma Jianxiong (Associate Professor of Anthropology, Division of Humanities, Hong Kong University of Science and Technology; HYI Visiting Scholar)
Chair/discussant: Michael Szonyi (Professor of Chinese History, East Asian Languages and Civilizations, Harvard University)
Co-sponsored with the Fairbank Center for Chinese Studies
This talk will review the history of silver and copper mines on the borderland between Yunnan and Burma, in particular the social organization of miners in remote mountainous areas. Two types of ethnic mobilization among the Hui and the Lahu will be examined. These two ethnic minorities were mobilized through different channels to politically resist the Qing government in interior counties and exterior chieftains. This was due to the political influence of unemployed miners, which arose from the decline of borderland silver mines in the early 19th century and local governments’ subsequent failure to manage social mobility as miners shifted their work to agriculture or business. The talk aims to study how cooperative transportation system networks became interwoven by different social actors in cities and mines, especially caravan muleteers whose mobility in metal transportation and commercial circulations was bound to the development of the mining industry and ethnic politics in southwest China. Different social sections cooperated through mediators such as the caravan muleteers, silver miners and exiled monks. In general, this talk will explain the historical reconstruction of borderland society in southwest China, showing how ethnic mobilization was a social consequence of economic and political transformation resulting from the extension of state governance in mountain areas from the Ming to the Qing.