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East Asia History: Becoming Chinese

East Asia History: Becoming Chinese

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Published by Miquel-Àngel
With its vast area and long history of settlement, present China ought to have hundreds of distinct cultures and peoples. In fact, all the evidence indicates that it once did. Coming from a modern uniform Europe we ponder, what happened to them all?
1. Becoming Han-ren. An ordeal of the highest order.
2. Civilised vs barbarians.
2.1. Variety across time and space
2.2. A glimpse at the course materials
3. Historic mobility of people: Two models of systematic Sinicization
3.1. The South(west)ern lands: From Qi’n to Yuan.
3.2. The north: the ever-lasting clash of two modus vivendi
4. A brief cultural synthesis.
4.1. Cultural assimilation: foreign things made Chinese
4.2. Artifacts: writing systems. 3 exemples

With its vast area and long history of settlement, present China ought to have hundreds of distinct cultures and peoples. In fact, all the evidence indicates that it once did. Coming from a modern uniform Europe we ponder, what happened to them all?
1. Becoming Han-ren. An ordeal of the highest order.
2. Civilised vs barbarians.
2.1. Variety across time and space
2.2. A glimpse at the course materials
3. Historic mobility of people: Two models of systematic Sinicization
3.1. The South(west)ern lands: From Qi’n to Yuan.
3.2. The north: the ever-lasting clash of two modus vivendi
4. A brief cultural synthesis.
4.1. Cultural assimilation: foreign things made Chinese
4.2. Artifacts: writing systems. 3 exemples

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Published by: Miquel-Àngel on Oct 18, 2008
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11/07/2012

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PAC2 –macastillomu
The changing Dragon: becoming Chinesein the east of Asia
As Peter O'Toole said in "The Last Emperor" while teaching Pu-yihow to ride a bicycle: "Head up, shoulders back--
as in life!"
 
1. Becoming Han-ren. An ordeal of the highest order.
1. The question of identity. A flashback (from the current picture to thepast)
 This chapter wants to do justice to the changing picture of the East area in Asia.No matter how backwards we plunge into Chinese history, up to 2000 years, thesinicization of the adjacent cultures suffered the great presence of herneighbourgs. Interested in diversity and familiar with the historic developmentsin European lands I have been puzzled by a contradiction related to Asianchanging borders. I would like to dive with this paper into the dozens of oft-forgotten peoples involved in East Asia sweeping history. When we consider thepopulation of China we are dealing with Han-Chinese and some others. Thisetcaetera group is very heteregenous. To start with the numbers are small butthey cover a large spectrum of families as we will see
.
Does nature decide who we are? I start my pack-2 convinced that we are madeby culture. But China was shaped by different forces. After the first thousandyears of fighting form the northern lands of the Huang-he the Laoshan culturewas finding a wayout southward, while preventing the nord from taking part. In771 BC the northern Quanrong Tribes from the Ordos region force the Zhou tomove their capital eastward from Shaanxi to Luoyang. This marks the decline of centralization and the rise of regional power i.e. a large number of feudal states.During the Shang and western Zhou, the northern tribes are agricultural. Duringthe eastern Zhou, the tribes practice husbandry and decorated their artifactswith zoomorphic motifs. Those changes will be mentioned in our last chapter. Jared Diamond advances an answer to most changes, and it was probably Geo-graphy:
China does not have mountain ranges that transect China. In Europe big rivers flowradially — the Rhine, the Rhone, the Danube, and the Elbe — and they don't unifyEurope. In China the two big rivers flow parallel to each other, are separated by low-lyingland, and were quickly connected by canals. For those geographic reasons, China was
 
unified in 221 B.C. and has stayed unified most of the time since then, whereas forgeographic reasons Europe was never unified. <1.1>
I understand that the ideas about Chineseness have changed over the years, andare also changing elsewhere, even in Asia. The notion that identity relates to apolitical entity known as the Middle Kingdom started with a name ‘Chinese’. Butclearly after reading my sources I utterly confirm what Aldous Huxley wrote in1935 “it will be clear that 'racemixture, has in the past been beneficial”.
1.2. Identity bonds. Half truths and other white lies .
Gish Jen, a Hyphenated Asian, was questioning himself about what is to be, ornot to be, Chinese nowadays.
A few years ago in Hong Kong, for example, I had heard Chinese intellectuals questionwhether anyone was really Chinese anymore. After all, they joked, the Chinese in HongKong were so British, the Chinese in Taiwan so Japanese; the Chinese on the mainland socommunist. <1.2>
But if it is not politics perhaps we can assume that the
Han
identity is in somesense homogeneous, as they make up to 92% of the population. But in
what 
sense? China's linguistic near-unity is also puzzling in comparison with thelinguistic disunity of other parts so I will spray some doubts on its genetic unity. The very notion of 
minorities (minzu) is political:Indeed the Han have a very long recorded history of their dealings with various"barbarians", who were divided into "raw" (
sheng
) and "cooked" (
shu
) "according towhether they were cultured enough to accept moral edification and eventualcivilization." <1.3>
 The southern Han popular mythology states that their ancestors migrated bystages to southern China because their "homeland" was occupied by "barbarian"tribes. No doubt, this conspiracy gives extra bonus at group pride (old dynastieswere all from north, Huang-ho river and surrounding, weren’t they?). But theinterlocking migration pattern tells them away. To make matters worse, I would venture into an old hat trick: the case of Hakka.Clearly a
Han-ren
situation. To compare, read this
<1.4>
:
 The Hakka were called “guest people”when they began migrating into Yue-speakingterritory, and the exotic name seems to have stuck quite simply because, until fairlyrecently, many Cantonese and Min mistakenly thought that the Hakka were not Chineseat all, but rather some kind of strange non-Han "barbarians" like the Tai or the Miao.”
 That the south of China is more heterogeneous than the north of China seems tobe true without exception, from history to
 
geography, ecology and culture, andnow genetics. The greater
 
heterogeneity of southern China is likely to reflect the
 
greater
 
geographic fragmentation of this area, resulting in greater isolation
 
of local populations, probably mostly determined by the nature
 
of the environmentas Cavalli-Sforza as shown. This southern population had more in common withtheir cousin from the bordering states (Laos, Cambodja, Thailand, Myanmar,Malaysia and Vietnam) than with their northern couterparts, which in turn weremore related to Mongol, Tibetan and Nepali groups <1.5>.
2. Civilised vs barbarians .
2.1. Variety across time and space
My powerful standpoint was language diversity, past and present. A glance at alinguistic map is an eye-opener to all of us accustomed to thinking of China asmonolithic. In addition to its Chinese language(s) China also has some 160smaller languages, many of them with just a few thousand speakers. But Chinesecharacters stood as a visible symbol of the dominance of Chinese culture in EastAsia.With its vast area and long history of settlement, present China ought to havehundreds of distinct cultures and peoples. In fact, all the evidence indicates thatit once did. Coming from a modern uniform Europe we ponder, what happened tothem all? Two thousand years ago the southern parts of the country werevariously inhabited by speakers of Miao-Yao, Austroasiatic, and Tai-Kadailanguages until they were largely replaced by their northeners Sino speakingneighbors. On the northern lands, the inimitable Wall was at the same time adoor and a doorway to the swift peoples of these language families: the Tibetancousins, the large Altaic group with its Mongolic branch and the Turkic gangs.From the beginnings of literacy in China over 3,000 years ago, it hasexpanded with no broken scenarios, at most some short interludes. This is a clearconnexion between the Chinese world and its area of influence towards thesouth. From the north there were fighting neighbours, some who were anihilatedand some who took hold of the Empire of the Middle.Suffice it to say that they were not only the tribes of yesteryear, as I can seenow, I found a bountiful of names about nonsensical places in lost areas of thereconstructed maps at times I never foresaw I could be searching. I tried tostrike a balance between the old and the new, but only the reader can assessthat. There are three parts here. Firstly, the initial centuries until the end of theHan Dinasty when the eastern people become Chinese; then the next millennia

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