Making Borders in Modern East Asia: The Demarcation of the China-Korea Tumen River Border, 1881-1919

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Date(s) - 21/11/2019
2:00 pm - 4:00 pm

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Making Borders in Modern East Asia: The Demarcation of the China-Korea Tumen River Border, 1881-1919

The EAS Speakers Series presents a talk by Professor Nianshen Song (Assistant Professor, History Department, Asian Studies Program, University of Maryland, Baltimore County) on November 21, 2019 entitled “Making Borders in Modern East Asia: The Demarcation of the China-Korea Tumen River Border, 1881-1919.” The event will take place from 2pm-4pm in the EAS Lounge (14th floor, Robarts Library). Please see an abstract of the talk below:

“Until the late nineteenth century, the Chinese-Korean Tumen River border was one of the oldest, and perhaps most stable, state boundaries in the world. Spurred by severe food scarcity following a succession of natural disasters, from the 1860s, countless Korean refugees crossed the Tumen River border into Qing-China’s Manchuria, triggering a decades-long territorial dispute between China, Korea, and Japan. The investigation of the Tumen north bank, a multilateral and multi-ethnic frontier, highlights the competing state- and nation-building projects in the fraught period that witnessed the Sino-Japanese War, the Russo-Japanese War, and the First World War. The power-plays over land and people simultaneously promoted China’s frontier-building endeavours, motivated Korea’s nationalist imagination, and stimulated Japan’s colonialist enterprise, setting East Asia on an intricate trajectory from the late-imperial to a situation that we call modern.”

Nianshen Song is an Assistant Professor of History and an affiliated faculty in the Asian Studies Program at UMBC. His research and teaching focus on late imperial and modern China, with special interest in China’s ethnic frontiers, East Asian trans-regional networks, and international relations. He is the author of Making Borders in Modern East Asia: The Tumen River Demarcation, 1881–1919 (Cambridge University Press, 2018), which explores the making of the China-Korean boundary and the Korean diaspora society in Northeast China. His articles have appeared in The Journal of Asian StudiesThe Asia-Pacific JournalChinese Journal of International PoliticsStudies in the History of Gardens & Designed Landscapes, among others.

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