Manzu (Man ethnic) is one of the 56 ethnics in China. As a multi-ethnic group, Manzu's history is extremely complex and many of it remains unknown or misunderstood. The issue concerns Manzu, Manchu, Qiren (Eight Banners), Minren (Han people who did not join the Eight Banners) during the Qing dynasty (For a simplified illustration of the evolution of Manzu as an ethnic). Qiren set themselves up as a privileged minority separate from and superior to the Han. However, they fell into a marginal ethnic group after the Revolution in 1911 in which the Qing dynasty was overthrown. They were identified as a minority by the newly founded People's Republic of China.

The existing literature contributes to our understanding of Manzu by exploring Manzu identity in Qing dynasty. But developments of Manzu identity since then receive little treatment in the literature. This research focuses on the Manzu identity in contemporary China. It is an extension of my doctoral thesis which is entitled "The Historical Anthropology of Ethnic Formation: Manchus, Qiren and Manzu". It was published under the same title in Japanese language (Tokyo: Fukyosha, 2006). The focus of my doctoral thesis is on a more general analysis about the identity of Manzu based on the cases of Qinjiang and Yaozhan. Supported by rich fieldwork data, including oral history, folk stories, myths, life history, local history documentation, and the data of my own participant-observation, this research aims to probe the living history of local people and the relationship between their history perception and identity. It also analyzes how the formation and persistence of Manzu people's identity is affected by the political, economic, social factors as well as government's social policy and ethnic policy. In order to clarify these, it particularly focuses on three issues:

  1. Folk religion and family history;
  2. The formation of history and culture as text in tourism space:
  3. The impact of the government's ethnic policy. The setting up of Xinbin Manzu Autonomous County in the 1980s serves as a case.

Fieldwork for the research was conducted in three provinces in over thirteen years: Liaoning, Heilongjiang and Fujian. The three cases represent different types of region of Man ethnic. Qingjiang is the home of the descendants of Banner man of the Qing dynasty. It presents a typical case of how Han heritage people converted to Manzu. This happened because their ancestors joined the Eight Banners in the Qing dynasty. Their identity is even stronger than Manchu heritage originally from Manchuria in the northeast China.

I will use the three months in the IIAS to complete an English paper. I will exchange with colleagues at the Sinological Institute and the Department of Anthropology in Leiden and other institutions in the Netherlands and give a talk on the subject of this project in the Sinological Institute.