Such Stuff as Qing Borderlands are Made On
Kwangmin Kim. Borderland Capitalism: Turkestan Produce, Qing Silver, and the Birth of an Eastern Market. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2016. 299 pp. $65 (cloth).
Jonathan Schlesinger. A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2017. 271 pp. $65 (cloth).
The titular stuffs, silver and fur, of the two books reviewed here reveal the material basis of the books’ arguments. Nevertheless, the primary resources exploited directly by authors Kwangmin Kim and Jonathan Schlesinger were the ink and paper of the archival documents in languages other than Chinese, most especially in Manchu, that they consulted in the course of their research. In these books’ reliance on non-Chinese sources, Borderland Capitalism and A World Trimmed with Fur are representative of a growing body of Qing scholarship in English that delineates the empire within multilingual parameters that do not marginalize its borderlands. Instead, in these works, borderlands are integrated with central concerns of imperial commerce and imperial identity, as well as linked solidly to pervasive global trade patterns stretching well beyond the already-vast bounds of the Qing Empire. This reorientation is made possible largely because detailed documentation of local borderland dynamics exists, largely in Manchu, for periods of their formation, consolidation, and onset of decline from the mid-seventeenth into the early nineteenth centuries...