Ethnic Chrysalis: China’s Orochen People and the Legacy of Qing Borderland Administration
(Harvard Asia Center, 2019) is the first monograph published in English on the early modern history of the Orochen, an ethnic group that has inhabited northeast Asia for centuries. Since the seventeenth century, the Orochen has settled in the region of Manchuria that became the eastern borderland between China and Russia after the 1689 Treaty of Nerchinsk. In this book, Loretta E. Kim
shows that the Orochen, while sandwiched between these two empires and later republics, reinforced the legal division of the territories and served as human markers that substantiated the demographic demarcation outlined in treaties and other legally binding agreements. Through detailed analysis of Qing official documents, Ethnic Chrysalis
reveals that the Orochen, like Manchuria’s other natives, played important roles in the development and maintenance of the Qing borderland not just as its inhabitants but also as economic and cultural intermediaries between officials and commoners on both sides of the interstate border. What emerges is a clear agency in these indigenous people and their capacities to instigate changes that they needed in policies and institutions to preserve their economic, social, and cultural interests.
Daigengna Duoer is a PhD student at the Religious Studies Department, University of California, Santa Barbara. Her dissertation researches on transnational/transregional networks of Buddhism centered in twentieth-century Inner Mongolia and Manchuria that connected to Republican China, Tibet, and imperial Japan.