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

William A. Callahan

in China

Published in print November 2009 | ISBN: 9780199549955
Published online February 2010 | e-ISBN: 9780191720314 | DOI:
Who Is China? (1): Foreign Brothers and Domestic Strangers

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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

Chapter.  12864 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Comparative Politics

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