The Gangou people of Qinghai / Koko Nor

The latest rerelease from Sino-Platonic Papers is Interethnic Contact on the Inner Asian Frontier: The Gangou People of Minhe County, Qinghai (3.3 MB PDF), by FENG Lide and Kevin Stuart.

According to the authors, the Gangou people raise important questions as to the meaning of “Han” and indeed, to ethnic classification in China.

This work also contains a section on language in the area.

Here is the opening of the introduction, minus the Chinese characters:

China cultural studies have often pigeon-holed the subject in a convenient ethnic category giving cultural phenomena ethnic tabs. The preponderance of Han in China has meant that some minority groups or a substantial portion of the same have been sinicized to the extent that little remains of the original minority culture. Examples include the Manchu and nearly all minority people reared in urban areas.

Unfortunately, little attention has been paid to “Han” who have been much influenced by minority people, which this study focuses on. We have chosen a village in Qinghai that illustrates this. It is an area where multicultural contact and mingling have a history of more than 2,000 years. For example, in 202 BC, speakers of an eastern Iranian Indo-European language fled to Qinghai where they settled and were absorbed by Qiangh tribes. Succeeding centuries saw migrations of Xianbei, Xiongnu, Tuyuhun, Tibetans, Uygur, Mongolians, Han, and various Turkish stock into Qinghai, which formally became a province of China in 1928. Prior to that time, it was the Tibetan frontier district of the present Gansu Province (Schram 1954, 17-22).

The post-1949 period has seen a large influx of Han into Qinghai — particularly in urban areas.

This is issue no. 33 of Sino-Platonic Papers. It was first published in September 1992.