In the 1920s, Western observers viewed Harbin, in North Manchuria, as a world turned upside down. Located in a former Chinese Eastern Railway concession with a significant Russian population, the city and the Special District in which it resided were represented as places that had reversed the “natural” racial hierarchy – as places where whites were the ruled and not the rulers.
Administering the Colonizer explores how a non-Western culture in a position of authority dealt with a Western minority under its administration. Chinese and Russian sources, as well as accounts by European observers, reveal that China created policies in a number of areas – security, municipal government, land administration, and education – that promoted its sovereignty and also protected the Russian minority. By considering this unique administrative experiment from both Chinese and Russian perspectives, this book offers a nuanced and multifaceted portrait of this frontier region and the unique form of Chinese nationalism to which it gave birth.Administering the Colonizer restores to history the multiple national influences that have shaped northern China and Chinese nationalism, previously glossed over by the ideological and national histories emanating from Moscow and present-day Beijing. It is a historical examination of how an ethnic, cultural, and racial majority coexisted with a minority of a different culture and race.
Administering the Colonizer is fine scholarship. Chiasson, more than any previous author, details the administrative structures and policies by which the unique city of Harbin was governed during the transition from Russian to Chinese rule. His book makes an outstanding original contribution on a subject that is important in its own right, but even more so as instances of mixed administration (both historical and current) are popular and relevant cases to study.
Chiasson is not afraid to take on the racial prejudice and discrimination that was part of life in China’s concession areas. His use of many Russian sources allows him to give the Russian perspective on what is usually taken to be a part of China’s history. This book should have wide appeal to those interested in modernization, colonial history, inter-cultural confrontations and, intimately related to these topics, the creation of planned human communities.
1 Introduction: Where Yellow Ruled White – Harbin, 1929
2 Railway Frontier: North Manchuria before 1917
3 The Chinese Eastern Railway: From Russian Concession to Chinese Special District
4 Securing the Special District: Police, Courts, and Prisons
5 Experiments Co-Administering the Chinese Eastern Railway
6 Manchurian Landlords: The Struggle over the Special District’s Land
7 Whose City Is This? Special District Municipal Governance
8 Making Russians Chinese: Secondary and Post-Secondary Education
9 Conclusion: Playing Guest and Host on the Manchurian Stage
The Death of a Provincial Bureaucrat and the Construction of China's National Economy
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