"In the Land of the People Without Sutras: Jungar Refugees and Qing-Kazakh Relations, 1758-1775"
Narratives of violence have dominated the historiography on the Qing conquest of Jungaria. Nearly every history of the Qing conquest highlights the Qing’s violent massacres against the Jungars, with several works even asserting these massacres were tantamount to “ethnic genocide.” While there is no doubt that Qing armies unleashed terrible violence upon the Jungar people, a singular focus on these massacres has obscured the important historical role that Jungar refugees played in the decades following the disintegration of the Jungar confederation.
Based on a large corpus of previously unstudied Manchu language documents, this presentation discusses the fate of Jungar refugees in the fifteen years following the disintegration of the Jungar confederation. The Jungars no longer had a state of their own, but were ruled over by their two former enemies: the Kazakhs in the west and the Qing in the east. In examining the Jungars’ experience as refugees, Professor Levey will discuss the following topics: kinship networks that connected Jungar refugee populations living under both Qing and Kazakh control; the important role that bilingual refugees played in mediating Qing-Kazakh relations; the continued importance of Oirat as the lingua franca of the Qing-Kazakh borderlands; and disputes between the Kazakhs and the Qing over the issue of runaway Jungar slaves.