Article ID: CBB001420326

Relieving Mongols of Their Pastoral Identity: Disaster Management on the Eighteenth-Century Qing China Steppe (2014)


This article explores the contradictory effects of state disaster relief on the Inner Mongolian steppe borderland of China's last dynasty, the Qing (1644--1911). As a Manchu-dominated polity most noted for its unprecedented unification of vast Inner Asian territories with China proper, the Qing had to manage complex environmental dependencies between humans, climate, vegetation, water resources, and animals across diverse borderlands. In Inner Mongolia these dependencies, ordered under what I term imperial pastoralism, were based on sustaining connections between Mongol herders and their livestock, which were continuously disrupted by harsh steppe conditions. Imperial state adaptation to these largely uncontrollable conditions constrained central administrators to provide agrarian (grain and silver), rather than pastoral (livestock) forms of disaster relief. This assistance helped alienate Mongols from their herds and, consequently, from the pastoral identity on which the Qing northern borderland order was based. This process predates the emergence of more direct and conventional pressures from nineteenth-century ethnic Chinese agrarian steppe migration.

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Authors & Contributors
Mikhail, Alan
Blaufarb, Rafe
Gray, Edward
Jolles, Adam
Morgan, Ruth A.
Rogers, Thomas D.
Environment and History
East Asian Science, Technology, and Medicine
Australian Historical Studies
Human Ecology: An Interdisciplinary Journal
UBC Press
Oxford University Press
Cambridge University Press
University of North Carolina Press
Harvard University Press
University of Chicago
Environmental history
Nature and its relationship to culture; human-nature relationships
Forests and forestry
Goethe, Johann Wolfgang von
Napoleon I, Emperor of France
Time Periods
19th century
18th century
20th century
17th century
Qing dynasty (China, 1644-1912)
16th century
Great Britain
Ottoman Empire
Jesuits (Society of Jesus)

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