A Tale of Blood and Fur

anuANU China Seminar Series

A Tale of Blood and Fur: the Life of Production on the Hulunbuir Grasslands

Thomas DuBois, Australian National University

4:00pm – 5:30pm, Thursday, 1 Sep 2016
Seminar Room A, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU, Canberra

Located in the north of Inner Mongolia, the Hulunbuir grasslands are a major producer of horses, sheep and cattle. Based on archival and field research conducted with scholars in Hulunbuir University, this talk introduces two centuries of pastoral life in the region, tracing the effects of Qing banner policy, the rise and fall of Russian and Japanese influence, pastoral collectivization in the early People’s Republic of China, and soaring economic vitality since the 1990s. Dramatic though they were, these changes are background to the real story, which is the transformation of production: what the people of Hulunbuir made, and how and for whom they made it. Using productive history as a narrative focus, this talk presents pastoral change as a story not only of politics and markets but more fundamentally as one of blood and fur, showing how the rapidly changing details of animal, hide, meat and milk production reveal processes and connections that numerate data alone might overlook or misinterpret.

Thomas David DuBois is a historian of modern China, and has taught at universities in the United States, Singapore and Australia. He is the author of Sacred Village: Social Change and Religious Life in Rural North China (Hawai’i, 2005), and Religion and the Making of Modern East Asia (Cambridge, 2011), as well as numerous articles on the legal and social history of the Northeast. His work has been published in Arabic, Chinese and Russian translation. His latest monograph, Empire and the Meaning of Religion in Northeast Asia, is due out from Cambridge University Press later this year.