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The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier: State Building, National Integration and Socialist Transformation, Zeku (Tsékhok) County, 1953-1958

Weiner, Benno Ryan

This dissertation analyzes early attempts by the Chinese Communist Party to integrate Zeku (Tsékhok) County, an ethnically Tibetan, pastoral region located in southeastern Qinghai/Amdo, into the People's Republic of China. Employing county-level archival materials, it argues that during the immediate post-Liberation period, Party leaders implicitly understood both the administrative and epistemological obstacles to transforming a vast multiethnic empire into a unitary, socialist nation-state. For much of the 1950s it therefore employed a "subimperial" strategy, referred to as the United Front, as a means to gradually and voluntarily bridge the gap between empire and nation. However, the United Front ultimately lost out to a revolutionary impatience that demanded immediate national integration and socialist transformation, leading in 1958 to communization, democratic reforms and rebellion. Despite successfully identifying the tensions between empire and nation, and attempting to creatively resolve them, empire was eliminated before the process of de-imperialization and nationalization was completed. This failure occurred at both the level of policy and narrative, leaving Amdo's Tibetan population unevenly absorbed into the modern Chinese nation-state.

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Academic Units
History
Thesis Advisors
Zelin, Madeleine H.
Degree
Ph.D., Columbia University
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