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Urbansky, Sören (2014): Tokhtogo’s Mission Impossible. Russia, China, and the Quasi-independence of Hulunbeir. In: Inner Asia, Vol. 16, No. 1: pp. 64-94 [PDF, 290kB]


By the turn of the twentieth century, the Qing court sought to incorporate and homogenise its imperial periphery. This shift towards firmer control of its Mongolian borderlands with neighbouring Russia elicited anti-imperial sentiments among the indigenous population. Complexities arose when the Russian government sought to utilise native separationist movements for the promotion of its own political ends: more precisely, to create a loyal autochthonous buffer at the poorly defended border. The article examines resistance by the nomadic borderlanders against the sovereignty claims of the state, arguing that the rejection of the state provoked a surge of both local and national identity formation along the border. It analyses nomads’ reactions to the Manchu court’s imperial policies, Russian exploitation of indigenous dissatisfaction, and the question of whether the native borderlanders, in the early twentieth century, gained independence or were subjugated by different means.

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