Speaker: Hosung Shim (Visiting Scholar, Mongolia and Inner Asia Studies Unit, University of Cambridge)
Moderator: Ling-Wei Kung (Ph.D. in History-East Asia, Columbia University)
In the 1720s, Islamic Central Asia witnessed a series of severe political, military, and social crises. In Transoxiana, the Khanate of Bukhara was devastated by the Kazakhs, who then found refuge in the region following the famous Barefooted Flight. At that time, the Kazakhs desperately fled to the west due to the crushing raids by the Zunghars. Thus, the decline of the Janid Özbek state, the Barefooted Flight of the Kazakhs, and the westward expansion of the Zunghar empire were all closely related. Yet, a crucial question remains unanswered. Why did the Zunghars march west and deal a fatal blow to the Kazakhs in the early 1720s? In this talk, I demonstrate that the Zunghar military venture had much to do with the Zunghar empire’s strategy to guarantee its survival over the course of the prolonged military rivalry with the Qing empire. By focusing on the Qing–Zunghar military conflict and Zunghar’s response to it, I aim to reveal that the Qing empire’s military activity in the eastern part of the Central Asian steppe exerted significant––albeit unwitting––influence on the history of Islamic Central Asia in the early eighteenth century.
This event is a part of the lecture series "China, Inner Asia, and the World: Mongol and Qing Empires in Comparative Perspectives" sponsored by the Weatherhead East Asian Institute at Columbia University and the Modern Tibetan Studies Program.