This article analyzes the changes in the representation of non-Han peoples in textbooks of premodern Chinese history published in China since the establishment of the People's Republic. Whereas in the early 1950s, these peoples were treated as non-Chinese others and were even referred to as foreigners, by the beginning of the twenty-first century, they were totally incorporated into the Chinese historical self through a new narrative claiming that they had always been Chinese. Simultaneously, the textbooks exhibit a clear shift from a Han-exclusivist vision of Chinese history to a more inclusive and multi-ethnic one. Based on an analysis of the content, language, and organization of textbooks and other related materials, the article proposes that although the incorporation of non-Han peoples into the Chinese historical subject was gradual, this process accelerated dramatically as a result of a planned reform launched in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The article explains the reasons for the reform and its timing, and examines its implications for the Chinese nation-state and China's ethnic minorities.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cultural Studies