Reinventing the Manchus: An Imperial People in Post-Imperial China

With the 1911 overthrow of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911), many predicted that the dynasty’s ethnic founders, the Manchus, would soon be swallowed up by the Han majority – the final act in a long process of acculturation that began in 1644, which even the long sequestration of the conquerors in walled garrisons could not prevent. The destruction of those walls, and continued prejudice against them in the first half of the 1900s, created a highly adverse environment for people wishing to go on being ‘Manchu’. Facing dwindling numbers, and at first denied official status as a minority nationality, their fate appeared even more uncertain in the early years of the People’s Republic of China. All the more astonishing, then, that the Manchus not only survived as an identity group, but are today the second most numerous of China’s fifty-five minority nationalities.

History, Society
Manchu, Ethnology