Ethnic conflicts and identity politics have captured global attention in recent years, with heated debates over how to define ‘us’ and ‘others’, and how to establish appropriate political and social orders. This seminar will look back to history and explore how these problems were handled in medieval China. At its peak, the Tang Dynasty (619-907) ruled a vast territory from the Korean peninsula to the Middle East. It governed a wide variety of ethnic groups across the continent and attracted a large number of immigrants. It was forced to face complicated ethnic and identity problems as a result. The present seminar will illustrate how the Tang dynasty addressed these problems through legal measures. It will set out how Tang law first defined and then governed not only its ‘own subjects’ but also foreign peoples within its border. It will take immigration and naturalization as examples of how legal regulations were applied to establish imperial order. Since the Tang law had a particularly deep influence in both China and East Asia, this study will also contribute to the understanding of the East Asian world order before nationalism came to the region.
Victor K. Fong is a PhD candidate at the School of Culture History and Language, Australian National University. He received his bachelor and master education from the Hong Kong Baptist University. His current research interests include Chinese imperial law, ethnic relations and identity.