The ‘Hua-Yi Dichotomy’ 華夷之辨 has long dominated understandings of the Han people’s ethnic self-identification and the Chinese worldview. But in Song times, many Han people lived as foreign subjects in territories that fell under Khitan, Tangut, or Jurchen rule. At the same time, various ‘barbarian’ tribes were absorbed into Song society and employed by the Song government in its military forces. Political allegiances in Song times therefore often cut across ethnic boundaries. Such dynamics challenge the ideal ‘Hua-Yi’ order and call for a different understanding of the lives and interactions of peoples whose allegiances were subject to competing demands.
This seminar explores the legal framework behind inter-state interactions in Song China. It illustrates the ways in which foreign contacts were managed in Song law. Its particular focus will be the ways in which Song imperial codes defined ‘barbarians’. It is therefore an attempt to investigate Song views of ‘self’ and ‘other’, with a view to revealing the complexity of relations among peoples in middle period China.