"I want to light a fire": Resisting Russian and Japanese imperialism in Manchuria, 1895-1945
LE3 .A278 2014
Bachelor of Arts
History & Classics
Manchuria was a contested region throughout history. Between the years 1895-1945, the region was successively occupied by Russia and Japan - two prominent colonial powers in East Asia and the Pacific. Both countries sought formal control in the region through centralized and racist policies, pushing local lives to the brink and worsening the existing regional instability. Total control met with total resistance from below: local residents in Manchuria frequently resisted Russian and Japanese rule throughout the late nineteenth century and the early twentieth century. Their discontent and resistance disrupted these imperialist projects, which greatly contributed to the final retreat of Russia and Japan. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) capitalized on Manchurian desire for liberation after the Second World War, and the Party eventually managed to control Manchuria by 1949. Using rare sources in Chinese and English to explore life inside Russian and Japanese Manchuria, this thesis demonstrates the importance of local resistance in subverting colonial domination. In other words, this thesis explores Russia and Japan's methods of domination and local responses to that control. Ultimately, racist imperial policies infuriated the Manchurian grassroots, provoking resistance that ranged from subversive protests to overt uprisings. While some local residents did benefit from colonial rule, the vast majority did not. This thesis concludes that winning the support of local residents rather than brutal repression became key to dominating the northeast.
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