Peter C. Perdue's China Marches West argues that the Qing dynasty's ability to break through historical territorial barriers on China's northwestern frontier reflected greater Manchu familiarity with steppe culture than their Chinese predecessors had exhibited, reinforced by superior commercial, technical, and symbolic resources and the benefits of a Russian alliance. Qing imperial expansion illustrated patterns of territorial consolidation apparent as well in Russia's forward movement in Inner Asia and, ironically, in the heroic, if ultimately futile, projects of the western Mongols who fell victim to the Qing. After summarizing Perdue's thesis, this essay extends his comparisons geographically and chronologically to argue that between 1600 and 1800 states ranging from western Europe through Japan to Southeast Asia exhibited similar patterns of political and cultural integration and that synchronized integrative cycles across Eurasia extended from the ninth to the nineteenth centuries. Yet in its growing vulnerability to Inner Asian domination, China proper—along with other sectors of the "exposed zone" of Eurasia—exemplified a species of state formation that was reasonably distinct from trajectories in sectors of Eurasia that were protected against Inner Asian conquest.


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pp. 281-304
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