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Knowing Manchuria

Knowing Manchuria

Environments, the Senses, and Natural Knowledge on an Asian Borderland

by Ruth Rogaski
Hardback
Publication Date: 28/12/2022

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Making sense of nature in one of the world's most contested borderlands.

According to Chinese government reports, hundreds of plague-infected rodents fell from the skies over Gannan county on an April night in 1952. Chinese scientists determined that these flying voles were not native to the region, but were vectors of germ warfare, dispatched over the border by agents of imperialism. Mastery of biology had become a way to claim political mastery over a remote frontier. Beginning with this bizarre incident from the Korean War, Knowing Manchuria places the creation of knowledge about nature at the center of our understanding of a little-known but historically important Asian landscape.

At the intersection of China, Russia, Korea, and Mongolia, Manchuria is known as a site of war and environmental extremes, where projects of political control intersected with projects designed to make sense of Manchuria's multiple environments. Covering more than 500,000 square miles, Manchuria's landscapes include temperate rainforests, deserts, prairies, cultivated plains, wetlands, and Siberian taiga. With analysis spanning the seventeenth century to the present day, Ruth Rogaski reveals how an array of historical actors-Chinese poets, Manchu shamans, Russian botanists, Korean mathematicians, Japanese bacteriologists, American paleontologists, and indigenous hunters-made sense of the Manchurian frontier. She uncovers how natural knowledge, and thus the nature of Manchuria itself, changed over time, from a sacred "land where the dragon arose" to a global epicenter of contagious disease; from a tragic "wasteland" to an abundant granary that nurtured the hope of a nation.

ISBN:
9780226809656
9780226809656
Category:
The environment
Format:
Hardback
Publication Date:
28-12-2022
Language:
English
Publisher:
University of Chicago Press
Country of origin:
United States
Pages:
464
Dimensions (mm):
229x152x46mm
Weight:
0.81kg
Ruth Rogaski

Ruth Rogaski is associate professor of history and Asian studies at Vanderbilt University. She is the author of Hygienic Modernity: Meanings of Health and Disease in Treaty-Port China.

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