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Shan, Siping (2022) Beyond violence: Commodity, nature and the expansion of a global market in late imperial south-eastern Mongolia. PhD thesis. SOAS University of London. DOI:

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Restricted to Repository staff only until 25 May 2025.


In the winter of 1891, a bloody storm swept the south-eastern region of Mongolia, which had provided a home for Mongols, Manchus and Han Chinese over the preceding two centuries. Followers of heterodox sects attacked local Mongol settlements and Christian churches, some even attempting to establish their own earthly regimes. The most active sect amongst them was the Jindandao 金丹道 (Golden Elixir Sect), making this event known as the ‘Jindandao incident’. Inevitably, this phenomenon provoked the Qing government, which was still recovering from multiple uprisings throughout its empire: Taiping, Nian, Muslim and other local rebellions, and large-scale unrest in the Qing empire’s northwest. Hence, the Qing government immediately sent armed forces to suppress the rebels. Although the unrest was pacified within two months, it still proved extremely destructive to local society; thousands of local residents lost their lives and hundreds of settlements vanished. And because different religious and ethnic groups were intent on eliminating their competitors, the local demographic structure was profoundly affected, not least providing a factor for the incipient independence movement in twentieth-century Mongolia. This paper will demonstrate that the ‘Jindandao event’ was triggered by the commoditisation of the local natural resources, representing a fundamental change in environmental ideology as a by-product of the global market system’s accelerating expansion. Therefore, the conflict between the Han immigrants and the Mongol natives was not a result of different lifestyles, but a consequence of both being integrated into a global market. Competition over the local natural commodities and the desire to maximise profits also ignited conflict between the various sectarian movements, as well as with the Christian congregations. For this reason, we can conclude that not ideological divergence was at fault in the break-up of Mongolia, but a conflict between different types of social organisation, each trying to afford their members added advantages in an unstable commercialised new world order.

Item Type: Theses (PhD)
SOAS Departments & Centres: SOAS Research Theses
Supervisors Name: Lars Laamann
DOI (Digital Object Identifier):
Date Deposited: 27 May 2022 08:48

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