cover of book

Lesser Dragons: Minority Peoples of China
by Michael Dillon
Reaktion Books, 2018
eISBN: 978-1-78023-952-1 | Cloth: 978-1-78023-911-8

Lesser Dragons is a timely introduction to the fascinating, complex, and vital world of China’s national minorities. Drawing on firsthand fieldwork in several minority areas, Michael Dillon introduces us to the major non-Han peoples of China, including the Mongols, the Tibetans, the Uyghur of Xinjiang, and the Manchus, and traces the evolution of their relationship with the Han Chinese majority. With chapters devoted to each of the most important minority groups and an additional chapter exploring the parallel but very different world of inter-ethnic relations in Taiwan, Lesser Dragons will interest anyone eager to understand the reality behind regional conflicts increasingly covered by global media. From the tense security situation in Xinjiang to China’s attitude toward Tibet and the Dalai Lama, to the resistance efforts of Mongolian herders losing traditional grasslands, Dillon’s book both examines clichés—such as those found in the Chinese press, which often portrays ethnic minorities as colorful but marginal people—and defies expectations. He shows us how these minority peoples’ religions, cultures, and above all languages mark these groups as distinct from the Chinese majority—distinct, yet endangered by the systemic forces of integration.

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