Viewing the Han Empire from the edge

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This dissertation examines in the continental context the building and maintenance of the Han state, which existed in the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers regions roughly from the second century B.C.E. to the second century C.E. It surveys the trajectory that transformed the Han state from a regional polity confined to the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers regions to a trans-regional superpower, exerting its influence across East Eurasia. I focus specifically on the interstate interaction between the Yellow River region (the Han), on the steppe (the Xiongnu), and in the Tarim Basin (multiple oasis-states) from the beginning of the second century B.C.E. to the early first century C.E. as my case study. Making use of both transmitted and excavated Han texts, I demonstrate that two major mechanisms facilitated the transformative process of the Han state in the political landscape of East Eurasia. One was horizontal kin ties between the Han emperor and peer rulers. The other was the vertically-structured imperial bureaucracy that organized communities in the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers regions for imperial power-building. In particular, the imperial bureaucracy evolved into the nodal mechanism to sustain imperial initiatives. On the one hand, it vertically incorporated into its writing-based system individuals of diverse social, cultural, and geographic backgrounds in the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers regions as the support base of the Han emperor. On the other hand, it horizontally facilitated the emperor's kinship-based alliance network across East Eurasia. This bureaucratic mechanism became the backbone that continued to weave together complex communities in the Yellow and Yangtze Rivers regions regardless of the rise and fall of ruling houses.


Type of resource text
Form electronic; electronic resource; remote
Extent 1 online resource.
Publication date 2011
Issuance monographic
Language English


Associated with Hsieh, Mei-Yu
Associated with Stanford University, Department of History.
Primary advisor Lewis, Mark
Thesis advisor Lewis, Mark
Thesis advisor Sommer, Matthew Harvey, 1961-
Thesis advisor Vinograd, Richard Ellis
Advisor Sommer, Matthew Harvey, 1961-
Advisor Vinograd, Richard Ellis


Genre Theses

Bibliographic information

Statement of responsibility Meiyu Hsieh.
Note Submitted to the Department of History.
Thesis Ph.D. Stanford University 2011
Location electronic resource

Access conditions

© 2011 by Mei-Yu Hsieh

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