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Distributed for University of British Columbia Press

A Frontier Made Lawless

Violence in Upland Southwest China, 1800-1956

In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the region of Liangshan in southwest China was plagued by violence. Indigenous Nuosu communities clashed with Han migrants, the Qing and Republican states, and local warlords. The first English-language history of Liangshan, A Frontier Made Lawless challenges the view that ongoing violence was the result of population pressures, opium production, and the growth of local paramilitary groups. Instead, Joseph Lawson argues that the conflict resulted from the lack of a common framework for dealing with property disputes, compounded by the repeated destabilization of the region by turmoil elsewhere in China.

Table of Contents


1 Conflict over Land in the Longue Durée

2 Violence and the Structures of Power in the Qing Empire, 1800–1911

3 Growing Poppies, Firearms, and Populations: Expansion and Consequences of Trade

4 Law in a Lawless Land: Liangshan, 1911–37

5 The Prisoners of Liangshan: Captivity and Alterity

6 The Nationalist Party in Liangshan, 1937–49

Coda: The Communist Takeover and Liangshan in World History

Notes; Glossary; Bibliography; Index

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