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Imperial Religion in Eurasian Borderlands

Wednesday, November 8, 2023 4:30pm

3203 Southeast Woodstock Boulevard, Portland, Oregon 97202-8199

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A talk by James Meador '09 (University of Michigan, Ann Arbor).

How did imperial states expand and rule through difference? This talk explores some ways that imperial states differ from nation-states. After introducing a theoretical framework through examples taken from the late imperial Russian and Qing Chinese metropoles, it proceeds to analyze and contextualize the missionary diaries of Roman Tsyrenpilov, a Buryat Mongol Orthodox missionary active in the borderlands between the two empires. Tsyrenpilov’s diaries record an 1870 trip to an extraterritorial enclave of Chinese imperial subjects in the Russian Far East, and his efforts to advance a strategically ambiguous missionary project that blurred the line between domestic and foreign religious proselytism. Though this project was quickly abandoned, its failure offers insights into the nature of Russian imperial rule. The diaries also preserve rare glimpses of a set of Manchu communities whose legacy was erased by Russian ethnic cleansing in 1900.

James Meador studies social semiotics of religion and multilingualism in Chinese-Russian contact history. He defended his PhD dissertation in linguistic anthropology at the University of Michigan Ann Arbor in Fall 2023. Based on three years of fieldwork in Northeast China and the Russian Far East, his dissertation explores the history of the Chinese Autonomous Orthodox Church. He is also the co-editor of Overlapping Borderlands, a forthcoming anthology of English translations of primary sources from Inner Northeast Asia.

Free and open to the public. Sponsored by the departments of Russian, Chinese, and anthropology.

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