Benno Weiner

Dr. Weiner is a historian of Modern China, Tibet and Inner Asia. His research revolves around China’s contested and possibly incomplete transition from empire to nation-state and in particular the processes and problematic of twentieth-century state and nation building within China’s ethnic minority regions. Before joining CMU, he taught at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

Dr. Weiner’s first book, The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier (Cornell UP, 2020), is among the first major studies of a “nationality minority region” during the formative years of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the first to examine early efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to integrate the vast region known to Tibetans as Amdo into the PRC. Applying the theoretical lens of imperial transition to the methodology of local history, it argues that in 1950s Amdo Party leaders implicitly understood both the administrative and epistemological obstacles to transforming a vast multi ethnic empire into a unitary, socialist nation-state. For much of the decade the CCP therefore employed a “subimperial” strategy, referred to as the United Front, as a means to “gradually,” “voluntarily,” and “organically” bridge this gap between empire and nation. However, the United Front ultimately lost out to a revolutionary impatience that demanded immediate national integration and socialist transformation. This led in 1958 to communization, “democratic reforms,” and large-scale rebellion. Despite successfully identifying the tensions between empire and nation, and attempting to creatively resolve them, empire was eliminated before the process of de-imperialization and nationalization was completed. Like so many of the world’s most intractable conflicts, he therefore contends that at the root of the Sino-Tibetan conflict lies the unresolved legacy of empire.

The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier2020
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