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ChinaThe Pessoptimist Nation$
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William A. Callahan

Print publication date: 2009

Print ISBN-13: 9780199549955

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: February 2010

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549955.001.0001

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Who Is China? (1): Foreign Brothers and Domestic Strangers

Who Is China? (1): Foreign Brothers and Domestic Strangers

Chapter:
(p.127) Chapter 5 Who Is China? (1): Foreign Brothers and Domestic Strangers
Source:
China
Author(s):

William A. Callahan (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199549955.003.0005

Overseas Chinese communities and national minority groups are an odd place to look for answers to the question “Who is China?” But the chapter explains that these essential outsiders show how the party‐state works both at the local level and in transnational space to recruit domestic strangers (i.e., national minorities) and foreign brothers (i.e. overseas Chinese) into its national project. The chapter shows how they emerged as political groups just as Chinese nationalism itself was taking shape in the early twentieth century. The Chinese state certainly created these categories as a way to recruit outsiders in the Chinese nation. But chapter shows that outsiders also define the inside: the “barbaric” national minorities define Chinese civilization, while the modern capitalist civilization of overseas Chinese provides the goal for China's development project. Nationalities work and overseas Chinese work thus reinvoke and reinterpret China's enduring civilization – barbarian distinction to construct the Han as the majority race of the Chinese nation.

Keywords:   national minorities, diaspora, civilization, barbarism, race, civilization, barbarism

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