Rutgers East Asian Languages and Cultures graduate student presented research paper at the 67th Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs


Austin Hudgins is a Rutgers East Asian Languages and Cultures M.A. student. His paper, “Daoist Trajectories and Confucian Concentrations:18th Century Manchu Assimilation Assessed Through the Aim of Archery,” was selected and highly recognized by the committee for the 67th Midwest Conference on Asian Affairs held in October 2018 in St. Paul, MN. Austin’s paper dealt with an 18th-century Manchu treatise regarding archery that he has been translating from the Manchu language under the direction of Dr. Simon Wickhamsmith in the ALC department. Those who attended his presentation were fascinated by the novel combination of archery and Manchu language. Austin also had a paper accepted for presentation at the Colorado University Boulder Asian Studies Graduate Student Conference (CUBASGA) in February 2019. The paper focused on the topic of developing 'virtue' through archery - as the Manchus viewed it.   

Daoist Trajectories and Confucian Concentrations: 18th Century Manchu Assimilation Assessed Through the Aim of Archery by Austin Hudgins


Abstract: Amidst imperial anxiety concerning Manchu acculturation into Han Chinese society, the Qianlong emperor (r. 1735-1796) of China’s Qing dynasty (1644-1912) promoted the performance of archery as a fundamental component in evaluating a Manchu bannerman’s adherence to the fe manju i an, or the “old Manchu usages”. Fearing the loss of Manchu collective identity after more than a century of conquest rule, the Qianlong Emperor sought a social revivification of archery amongst Manchu bannermen to preserve notions of tradition, ethnicity, and martial praxis. Nonetheless, although contemporary Qing historians have debated the degree to which Manchus adopted aspects of Chinese culture from the perspectives of economic and social institutions, few have examined the same topic from the perspective of archery despite its principal position in the Manchu’s conceptualization of self. However, this article, through textual analysis of the 1770 Manchu archery treatise, titled [The Aim of Archery], written by Manchu bannerman, Vice-General, and Provincial Governor Yehe Nara Changjun (?-1789), discusses the extent to which Manchu tradition, specifically the tradition of archery, remained traditionally Manchu by the mid-18th century. In sourcing the myriad citations from Neo-Confucian and Daoist texts found within the Manchu treatise’s structured schema of archery, this article suggests a Manchu appropriation with Han psychosomatic philosophy to conceptualize pre-performative and concentrative aspects of archery including the “rectifying of mind”, and “cultivation of qi (氣) energy”. Subsequently, although 18th century imperial Manchu cultural conservatives portrayed archery as a cornerstone to Manchu identity, this article’s findings not only interrogate the purity of a unique Manchu archery tradition, but also address the degree to which Manchu self-depictions of cultural heritage was negotiated through an understanding of Han ideologies.