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Sakura Christmas
Bowdoin College (Brunswick, ME 04011-8447)
Nomadic Borderlands: Imperial Japan and the Origins of Ethnic Autonomy in Modern China

Research and writing leading to publication of a book on the role Japanese imperial administrators in the 1930s played in shaping modern Chinese policies on environmental engineering and ethnic minorities.

This project examines how and why imperial Japan demarcated the nomadic borderlands between Manchuria and Inner Mongolia in the 1930s. This mottled landscape of pastoral and agrarian livelihoods posed fundamental problems around governance and legibility for Japanese authorities after they invaded Northeast China in 1931. Japanese planners collaborated with Mongol elites to pursue radical solutions in ethnic cleansing and environmental engineering in order to draw an internal border in this zone of mixed settlement. This border continues to define the eastern limits of the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region today. This study therefore offers an alternate understanding to the beginnings of the multiethnic framework of the People’s Republic. Instead of only seeing the origins of Communist rule as forged in the fires war against imperialism, this project points to the significance of Japan in shaping the ethnic and ecological bounds of modern China.

[Grant products]

Project fields:
East Asian History

Fellowships for Advanced Social Science Research on Japan

Research Programs

$50,400 (approved)
$50,400 (awarded)

Grant period:
6/1/2018 – 5/31/2019