A Frontier Made Lawless: Violence in Upland Southwest China, 1800-1956 by Joseph LawsonA Frontier Made Lawless: Violence in Upland Southwest China, 1800-1956 by Joseph Lawson

A Frontier Made Lawless: Violence in Upland Southwest China, 1800-1956

byJoseph Lawson

Hardcover | October 1, 2017

Pricing and Purchase Info

$58.50 online 
$65.00 list price
Earn 293 plum® points

Prices and offers may vary in store

Out of stock online

Not available in stores


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. Large numbers of Nuosu and Han were kidnapped and killed in conflicts over property and captive-taking raids mounted by Nuosu clans and local state authorities alike.

The first English-language history of Liangshan, A Frontier Made Lawless challenges the view that the persistent turmoil 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 disputes over land tenure. This was in turn compounded by the repeated destabilization of the region, which was an unintended consequence of violence elsewhere in China.

Drawing on a range of sources including court records, locals’ memoirs, regional government records and surveys, and Nuosu epic poetry, Lawson adds new insights and comparative perspectives to the study of conflict in Liangshan.

Joseph Lawson is a lecturer in Chinese history at Newcastle University. He is the editor and translator of Mao Haijian’s The Qing Empire and the Opium War.
Title:A Frontier Made Lawless: Violence in Upland Southwest China, 1800-1956Format:HardcoverDimensions:288 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:October 1, 2017Publisher:Ubc PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0774833696

ISBN - 13:9780774833691

Look for similar items by category:


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

Editorial Reviews

Joseph Lawson’s exhaustive research into pre-1949 literature and archival documents challenges established views on the root causes of ethnic violence in China’s frontier society. He convincingly argues that warfare in modern China – notably the Taiping Rebellion, the interprovincial battles in the early Republican Chinese period, and the Sino-Japanese war in the 1930s and the 1940s – led to violence in Liangshan. A Frontier Made Lawless is sure to stimulate discussion and prompt further study. - Hsiao-ting Lin, research fellow and curator, East Asia Collection, Hoover Institution