This book examines how the Ming state transformed the multi-ethnic society of Yunnan into a province. Yunnan had remained outside the ambit of central government when ruled by the Dali kingdom, 937-1253, and its foundation as a province by the Yuan regime in 1276 did not disrupt Dali kingdom style political, social and religious institutions. It was the Ming state in the fourteenth to seventeenth centuries through its institutions for military and civilian control which brought about profound changes and truly transformed local society into a province. In contrast to other studies which have portrayed Yunnan as a non-Han frontier region waiting to be colonised, this book, by focusing on changes in local society, casts off the idea of Yunnan as a border area far from civilisation.
Abstract: By investigating Southwest China within the framework of the traditional centre–local dichotomy, previous scholarship has categorised it as a borderland. Scholars have interpreted the expansion of the Chinese state to the periphery as a civilisation project, which coupled with state-encouraged assimilation and acculturation ultimately aimed to turn ethnic populations into subjects of the emperor. Adopting the approach of historical anthropology and selecting local society as the focus of analysis instead of the state, this volume demonstrates the agency of local elites in reconstructing their own communities to adapt to Ming state institutions and ideologies. By emphasizing local agency, the authors show how shifts in state policies created fluidity between social boundaries and ethnic identities which in turn provided local elites with the leeward to manoeuvre and manipulate institutions to their own advantage. Daniels and Ma outline the new military and civilian institutions introduced by the Ming that formed the backdrop to the transformation of pre-1382 Yunnan society into an imperial province. They elucidate how protraction of the Dali kingdom’s socio-political-religious culture until 1382 arose out of peculiar historical circumstances during the Mongol-Yuan period, and discuss recent scholarship on the role of Buddhism and political power in the Dali kingdom period.
Abstract: This chapter investigates internal frontiers, that is, spaces not controlled by the state directly, or administered indirectly through native officials. It examines why the Ming state failed to control the internal frontier of Iron Chain Gorge, a conglomeration of autonomous upland ethnic communities in western Yunnan, for almost 200 years. Focusing on the agency of these upland communities in maintaining their own autonomy, the author clarifies the nature of political organisation within the internal frontier, and shows how fierce opposition by upland leaders limited Ming control of surrounding lowland areas until the conquest of Iron Chain Gorge in 1574. The survival of an internal frontier compelled Ming bureaucrats to heavily rely on co-administration with hereditary native officials. Co-administration was not simply a product of the uneven coming together of regular bureaucrats and hereditary native officials, but can be interpreted as the Ming state’s recognition of the limited extent of their governance. The author concludes that this administrative infrastructure prolonged the existence of the Iron Chain Gorge internal frontier, and that it restricted the reach of social reconstruction. The concept of internal frontiers is reviewed in the context of James Scott’s Zomia, and the implications it has for the history of Southwest China are discussed.
Abstract: This article examines Mongol-Yuan influence on the emergenceof proto-Tai/Tai polities after c. 1260 in the upper Ayeyarwaddy (Irrawaddy)and Mekong river regions using the Yuan History, a recently discovered tombinscription of 1461, and other Chinese and Tai sources. I make five arguments. Thefirst is that as a successor state the Mongol-Yuan gained possession of former Dalikingdom territories in Yunnan and northern mainland Southeast Asia by restoringpolitical power to the deposed Duan royal family. The second is that the restorationof the Duan aided the Mongol-Yuan advance into northern mainland SoutheastAsia along communication routes leading from western Yunnan to the upperAyeyarwaddy and Mekong river regions established during the Dali Kingdomperiod. The third is that M ng2 Maaw2 (Moeng Mao, Chinese: Luchuan 川),a large political Tai confederation in the western mainland, arose c. 1335-1350sin the context of the expulsion of Mian power from the Upper Ayeyarwaddy bythe Mongol-Yuan during the 1280s, and after the garrisoned Mongol-Yuan troopswithdrew in 1303. The fourth is that the case of a Han Chinese man appointed to thePacification Office in Lan Na c. 1341 attests that the Duan family aided Mongol-Yuan administration of northern mainland Southeast Asia by supplying lower levelpersonnel to staff the yamen of Tai rulers appointed as native officials. The fifth isthat, judging from the historical data, such yamen exercised limited influence ascatalysts of Tai polity building. These five arguments are linked. Taken together,they demonstrate that available evidence does not substantiate Victor Lieberman’sclaim that the Mongol-Yuan “encouraged the creation of Tai client states” in theupper Mekong by providing them with “new military and administrative models”through their status as native officials. My conclusion is that notions of “patronage”and “client states” are misleading because they downplay the centrality of the protoTai/Tai as agents navigating their own way to polity building; proto Tai/Tai agencyis verified by their ambitious acquisition of new skills, technologies and writingsystems.
Abstract: This paper challenges James Scott’s thesis of state evasion and state prevention as the basic features of lowland-upland relationships. It scrutinizes the validity of Scott’s assumptions by examining the case of prolonged violent conflict in a tiny Tay polity feudatory to China during the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries. Civil war broke out in the Mäng2 Khön1 polity (Mangshi, Dehong Autonomous Region in southwest Yunnan, China) due to mismanagement by the monarch of two upland peoples, the Jingpo and the Ta’aang. The analysis of the hostilities furnishes no evidence to validate Scott’s thesis of mountain areas as refuge zones for migrants from lowland oppression. What it does expose, however, is the symbiotic side to upland-lowland relationships. It concludes that symbiosis of upland and lowland was a central issue for the maintenance of political and social stability. Rather than viewing diametric opposition as the main characteristic of upland-lowland relations as Scott does, this study demonstrates the role of interdependence and cooperation, and reveals that relationships between upland peoples and Tay polities shifted according to changing politicosocial circumstances. It also identifies the late eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries as a tumultuous period for upland and lowland, when the migration of new ethnic groups forced basin polities to readjust their strategies.