Cover

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Title Page

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p. iii

Copyright Page

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p. iv

Table of Contents

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p. v

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Introduction

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pp. vii-xxv

In 1997, shortly before the return of Hong Kong to Chinese sovereignty, a Chinese polling firm asked a focus group of Shanghai students to choose which period, historical or present-day, they would most like to live in. A plurality of the students chose the Tang dynasty (618–907)—the present-day came in second—because, in the students’ words, it was a period of “Great China.”1 ...

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Chapter 1. Ethnicity in the Chinese Context

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pp. 1-17

Historians and social scientists have largely defined ethnicity in terms of the relationships between majority groups, minority groups, and the political center within the context of the modern nation-state, explicitly tying it to presentist questions of modernity, imperialism, capitalism, racism, and democracy. However, historians have also used ethnicity with increasing frequency to interpret premodern phenomena.1 ...

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Chapter 2. The Ambiguity of the Non-Han: Stereotyping and Separation

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pp. 18-51

Stereotypes reveal the basic fault lines and insecurities harbored by a society. The prominence of ethnic stereotypes in everyday and official discourse in the Tang bespeaks the discomfort engendered by ethnic boundaries and the profound need felt by Tang elites to come to terms with their own, often ambiguous, ethnic and cultural identities. ...

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Chapter 3. Buddhism as a Foreign Religion

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pp. 52-82

The early eighth-century edict ordering the expulsion of “barbarian monks from foreign lands,” which sparked the reaction from Vajrabodhi described in the Introduction, implicitly acknowledged that Buddhism had become too deeply rooted in Han society and Chinese culture to allow for a broader expulsion or prohibition...

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Chapter 4. Deep Eyes and High Noses: The Barbarian Body

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pp. 83-107

The body and its ornamentation, ranging from skin color and tattoos to the shape of the nose and hair, are potentially the most visible criteria of ethnic difference in any ethnically heterogeneous society.1 All humans have a basic familiarity with the body and its accoutrements and are used to interpreting them in a wide number of contexts based on the universal...

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Chapter 5. The Geopolitics of Ethnicity

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pp. 108-149

Sinitic texts had, long before the Tang, used geographic boundaries to mark off ethnic differences and ascribed ethnic content to geographic features. Chinese geographical discourse easily incorporated ethnic content and facilitated construction of ethnic boundaries because it was from its origins highly political and cultural and strongly oriented toward delimiting frontiers. ...

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Chapter 6. Varieties of Ethnic Change

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pp. 150-178

Tang society was marked both by class consciousness and by snobbery—reflecting the inherited aristocratic traditions of the Northern and Southern Dynasties—and, increasingly over the course of the dynasty, by social mobility based on the broadening of officialdom, the spread of education, and the overall growth in the principle of meritocracy. ...

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Conclusion

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pp. 179-191

One of the chief difficulties in studying the construction of ethnic difference in the Tang Empire is the absence of works in the Tang corpus that explicitly address ethnic and cultural identity at an abstract level, with the partial exception of the polemical discourse on the alien origins and nature of Buddhism examined in Chapter 3. ...

Appendix A. Chinese Dynasties

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pp. 193-194

Appendix B. Sui and Tang Emperors

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p. 195

List of Abbreviations

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pp. 197-198

Notes

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pp. 199-222

Bibliography

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pp. 223-246

Index

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pp. 247-255

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Acknowledgments

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pp. 257-258

My initial debt of gratitude is to the Sidwell Friends School and the teachers and mentors there who first introduced me to the study of Chinese history and language: Lucia Pierce and Dawn Sun. Thanks to a scholarship established in the memory of Sidwell alumnus John Zeidman...