A world trimmed with fur

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a world trimmed with fur

A World Trimmed with Fur: Wild Things, Pristine Places, and the Natural Fringes of Qing Rule by Jonathan Schlesinger

In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, booming demand for natural resources transformed China and its frontiers. Historians of China have described this process in stark terms: pristine borderlands became breadbaskets. Yet Manchu and Mongolian archives reveal a different story. Well before homesteaders arrived, wild objects from the far north became part of elite fashion, and unprecedented consumption had exhausted the regions most precious resources.

In A World Trimmed with Fur, Jonathan Schlesinger uses these diverse archives to reveal how Qing rule witnessed not the destruction of unspoiled environments, but their invention. Qing frontiers were never pristine in the nineteenth century—pearlers had stripped riverbeds of mussels, mushroom pickers had uprooted the steppe, and fur-bearing animals had disappeared from the forest. In response, the court turned to purification; it registered and arrested poachers, reformed territorial rule, and redefined the boundary between the pristine and the corrupted. Schlesingers resulting analysis provides a framework for rethinking the global invention of nature.
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A world trimmed with fur: wild things, pristine places, and the natural fringes of Qing rule

For more information about how we handle your data, please read our Privacy Notice. Tlingit artisans, natives of Sitka, Alaska, crafted it in the early s. The vest is a vestige of an earlier global age: The coins were minted in Yunnanese copper, sold to shippers from Boston, and exchanged for sea otter pelts off the Alaskan coast. Tlingit chiefs wore Chinese money; Chinese consumers wore otter fur. How should we understand this earlier age?

This is a particularly fine example of the fresh insights that can be gained by viewing history from multiple angles—in this case in particular by taking into account the perspective of the northern and northeastern frontiers of China as well as the center, and by using multiple languages to access sets of archival materials previously little used by scholars working primarily in Western languages. There was a time when using Chinese archives at all merited comment; no more, however, and in this book Jonathan Schlesinger has drawn on a wide range of archival and published sources not only in Chinese but also in Mongolian, Manchu, Russian, and Korean as well as in Japanese and English. While a few of these may exist in western-language translations, it is clear that for the most part he has consulted the originals. Among other things [End Page ] this has led him, throughout the book, to present compelling evidence that different forms of documentation of the same event, even when in the same language, may vary in the facts presented and viewpoint offered, and that drawing on source materials in different languages can greatly magnify this phenomenon. To be sure, while this approach can provide a much more nuanced perspective on the past, it also sometimes produces evidence that just does not quite add up, as Schlesinger is clearly well aware, requiring further research or especially thorough analysis. Archival originality does not in and of itself great history make, but in this book the author makes no such claim.

January pages. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, booming demand for natural resources transformed China and its frontiers. Historians of China have described this process in stark terms: pristine borderlands became breadbaskets. Yet Manchu and Mongolian archives reveal a different story. Well before homesteaders arrived, wild objects from the far north became part of elite fashion, and unprecedented consumption had exhausted the region's most precious resources. In A World Trimmed with Fur , Jonathan Schlesinger uses these diverse archives to reveal how Qing rule witnessed not the destruction of unspoiled environments, but their invention.

In A World Trimmed with Fur, Jonathan Schlesinger uses these diverse archives to reveal how Qing rule witnessed not the destruction of unspoiled environments, but their invention. Qing frontiers were never pristine in the nineteenth century—pearlers had stripped riverbeds of.
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Stanford: Stanford University Press, Strictly speaking, this is a book on cultural history with an interdisciplinary approach. The real thrust of the book lies in its unconventional source for the Qing administration: it is based mainly on Manchurian and Mongolian information unavailable in the Chinese language. This approach alone represents pathbreaking progress in scholarship on the history of Qing China. Structurally, this book has four substantial chapters. Chapter 1 is devoted to the Manchurian authority's emotional and normative approach to maintaining a pristine "holy land" in Manchuria where the ethnic Manchu originated.

It has been over a hundred years since China fell but, remarkably, the mode of dress is still the same as before the downfall. It has come down through actors in the theater. Everyone else in China dressed rudely, like barbarians, in furs. He had come from Seoul to pay tribute to the Qing emperor, Qianlong r. Yet the emperor himself seemed to dress the part of a barbarian ruler: He not only wore furs but mandated others at court do so as well. Indeed, when the diplomacy was concluded, Qianlong sent Pak Chiwon home with a signature token of Qing generosity: sable pelts. To be Manchu was to wear fur, and, by the late eighteenth century, not only Manchu elites wore it; Chinese elites did so as well.

Tlingit artisans, natives of Sitka, Alaska, crafted it in the early s. The vest is a vestige of an earlier global age: The coins were minted in Yunnanese copper, sold to shippers from Boston, and exchanged for sea otter pelts off the Alaskan coast. Tlingit chiefs wore Chinese money; Chinese consumers wore otter fur. How should we understand this earlier age? How did people understand its environmental crises? Unexpected answers can be found in the archives of Beijing, Taipei, and Ulaanbaatar, where today historians are sifting through documents written not only in Chinese, but in Mongolian and Manchu as well. Historians have long recognised booming demand for resources transformed China in the eighteenth and early nineteenth centuries.

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    In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, booming demand for natural resources transformed China and its frontiers.

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