The Bound Steppe: Slavery and Family Strategies in Qing Mongolia, 1770–1880


Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowships in China Studies – Long-Term

Named Award

Long-term named award


“The Bound Steppe” is a study of changes in relations of dependency, kinship, and gender in Mongolia in the Qing Empire. In the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, the intersection of fiscal, environmental, and cultural changes in the Qing northern frontier caused a gradual emancipation of enslaved people and resulted in dynamic new household forms. Previous scholarship portrays this period as passive decline and social decay; yet, this research demonstrates that people and society were active in their responses and adaptations to challenges and changes of their times. The project is based in Mongolian and Chinese language archival materials and literature, including inheritance records, fugitive cases, administrative handbooks, petitions, and travelogues. This work contributes to the social and legal history of Late Imperial China as well as scholarship on Buddhism and culture in early modern Inner Asia.