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Oasis Capitalism: Muslim Notables and the Qing Empire in Chinese Central Asia, 1759-1864

Eurasian Empires Lecture by Kwangmin Kim, Dept. of History, University of Colorado, Boulder

Thursday, January 15, 2015
4:00 PM - 5:30 PM
10383 Bunche
Los Angeles, CA

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From 1759 to 1864, the Qing Empire ruled oases of Chinese Central Asia (Xinjiang), laying the foundation for the continued Chinese dominance of the region which lasted until the present. This talk sheds light on the pivotal role played by the Muslim notables (begs), in Qing imperial expansion. Rather than passively accommodating the powerful military advances of the Qing, I argue in this talk that the begs proactively sought the patronage of the Qing. They did so in order to advance their own agenda of promoting capitalist transformation of the oases, taking advantage of the expansion of global trade into the region since the sixteenth century. This talk shows how the begs, a new commercialized elite of diverse origins (descendants of nomadic nobles, and caravan merchants, and most importantly sufi leaders) built thriving commercial, agricultural, mining, and ranching enterprises under Qing protection. It also shows how their capitalist initiative created ever-intensifying conflict between the oasis urban centers and rural hinterlands, which proved to be fatal to the security of the Qing empire in the long run.

Kwangmin Kim specializes in early modern China and East Asia. He received his Ph.D. from the University of California at Berkeley, and currently teaches Chinese and global history at the University of Colorado at Boulder. His research focuses on the history of empire, borderlands, and transnational relations. His recent publications include "Profit and Protection: Emin Khwaja and the Qing Conquest of Central Asia, 1759–1777," The Journal of Asian Studies 71, no. 03 (2012). He is currently preparing for the publication of his first book titled Borderland Capitalism: Muslim Notables and the Qing Empire in Chinese Central Asia, 1759-1864.


The 2014-15 seminar series, Eurasian Empires & Central Asian Peoples: The Backlands in World History, is co-sponsored by the UCLA Program on Central Asia and the Center for Near Eastern Studies. Click here for more information about the series.


Sponsor(s): Center for Near Eastern Studies, Center for Chinese Studies, Asia Pacific Center, Program on Central Asia