Introduction

Manchu in Global History:
A Research Language for Qing Historians

Time: September 19-22, 2017
Place: Room 1.601, KWZ (Kulturwissenschaftliches Zentrum/Center for the Humanities), Heinrich-Düker-Weg 14, 37073 Göttingen

Organisers: Julia C. Schneider (Department for East Asian Studies, University of Göttingen) and Katja Pessl (Centre for Modern East Asian Studies, University of Göttingen)
Keynote Lecturer: Prof. Mark Elliott (Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations and Department of History, Harvard University)

As an ‘ethnic minority’ with origins in the semi-nomadic civilisations of northeast Asia (Manchuria), the Manchus successfully ruled Han-dominated China and extended the territory of the “Great Qing” (1636/1644-1912) far into Inner Asia, including Mongolia, Tibet, and East Turkestan (Xinjiang). Thereby, they created a wide corridor, connecting many different peoples and cultures under their rule and beyond.
Manchu identity and language was muted in the People’s Republic of China. It was only in the 1980s that Manchu gained new momentum, as formerly closed archives were opened during China’s reform and opening politics. Scholars working on Qing history discovered that Manchu sources needed to be studied separately from Chinese sources. Manchu’s historical significance was underscored by its use as an official and secret language in the Qing Empire, utilized to exclude mainly Han Chinese officials from certain political processes and knowledge. Thus, the ability to read Manchu sources not only broadens our understanding of Qing history but it also provides a tool without which large parts of Qing history remain in the dark. Using Manchu as a research language unlocks new perspectives on the Qing Empire’s role in East and Inner Asia as well as in global connections.
To the international workshop “MANCHU IN GLOBAL HISTORY: A RESEARCH LANGUAGE FOR QING HISTORIANS” we invite paper proposals from prospective speakers who offer specific case studies as well as broader studies on Qing and Manchu history. In line with recent discussions about global history, we especially welcome papers that explore issues of Manchu Qing history wherein transregional connections come into focus, with ‘transregional’ being understood in terms of connections between different peoples, regions, and cultures not only on trans-state level, but also within one state or empire. We are particularly, but not exclusively, looking for papers that use Manchu sources to uncover otherwise hidden aspects of East Asian history, thereby emphasising the importance of Manchu as a research language and moreover questioning narratives excluding or marginalising such sources.