Marginalisation at China’s Multi-Ethnic Frontier: The Mongols of Henan Mongolian Autonomous County in Qinghai Province

Ute Wallenböck


China consists of a mosaic of many territorial ethnic groups whose historic homelands have been incorporated into the modern Chinese state, a process by which the respective populations transformed from a “sovereign or semi-sovereign people” (Bulag 2002: 9) on China’s periphery into “minority nationalities” (少数民族, shaoshu minzu). In 1950 Mao Zedong initiated the “Ethnic Classification Project” whose effect has been the marginalisation of the minority nationalities. In this paper, I explore the marginalisation of the Mongol population of contemporary Henan Mongolian Autonomous County within the Huangnan Tibetan Autonomous Prefecture in southeastern Qinghai Province. By seeking to understand how Henan Mongols deal with their socio-political and demographic marginal status, the aim of this article is to shed light on how they utilise their marginal position, and how they centralise themselves as an independent party interacting with the civilising missions of China and Tibet.

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