Hakka origins

The dominant understanding. of the origins of the Hakka follows from the work of the seminal historian of the Hakka,  Luo Xianglin. Common to both scholars and Hakka people in general is :a definition of the Hakka as a subgroup of the dominant Han ethnic group of China that migrated southward from central China during five documented periods of mass migrations. Their ancestors are described as marginal, oppressed in their inability to gain access to land—they are the “guest people” (a literal translation of the term Hakka),who as refugees front dynastic turmoil arrived in the south landless but with the heritage of central Chinese culture. As settlers in marginal lands, however, Hakka leaders maintained true allegiance to Hart Chinese dynasties, and were prominent among loyalist partisans against the foreign Jurchen lin (265 to 420 c.E,), Mongol Yuan (1271to 1368), and Manchu Qing (1 644 to 19 2) dynasties…..

Other explanations for the origin of the Hakka assert non-Han origins for the Hakka. Fang (1994) concludes that the Hakka are the product of the intermingling of migrant Han and local She (a nationality, minzu, recognized by the People’s Republic of China as distinct from the Han)- Fang documents. archaeological remains from the local Yule kingdom (late-Zhou to Han period, 206B..c.E, to 220 C.E.) and current popular religious practices to show how a large number of cultural characteristics are definitively absent in northern Han Chinese culture and must derive from a precontact indigenous culture.

Chan(1995) makes a similar argument by tracing the disappearance of names used for rituals that are associated with Yao (another nationality) and She ritual practices in Hakka genealogies as part of the process of Hakka adaption to Han lineage culture. By focusing on the migration history of the Hairdo, Leong (1997) also concludes that the ancestors of the Hakka were largely local non-Han people.  Leong concludes that Hakka ethnicity arose out of historical encounters by people who lived in the mountainous peripheries of southern Chinese market regions(following Skinner) with locals in major market towns and cities. The original migrants from the north who settled into southern mountain peripheries assimilated local She technologies of cultivation. Leong thus concludes that the Hakka developed an ecological niche and were better suited to open frontier lands nearer major market towns during the expansion of the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Chen (1997) makes a similar argument by contrasting Hakka and non-Hakka genealogical history for those who migrated south, demonstrating that the development of Hakka identity and use of what became the Hakka dialect were results of their settlement in She mountainous areas. Hakka ethnic awareness and group solidarity solidified with conflicts with locals arising from the social and economic inequalities faced by these itinerant workers,traders, and temporary’ settlers.

A more radical thesis on Hakka identity comes from Taiwan., where Hakka activists are key players in Taiwanese politics (Martin, 1996). Unlike the positions described in the foregoing, Kiang (1991) emphasizes the differences between the Hakka ethnic minority and the dominant Han majority. His argument is based on evidence from genealogies, historical records, and genetic research that shows Hakka ties to Central Asia. According to Kiang the Hakka must be seen not as a sub is group of the Han majority, but as an individual ethnic nationality with its own unique culture.  According to Kiang, the Hakka as an ethnic group are closer in origins and culture to the Koreans and Japanese, with whom they share a common primordial ancestry.

Taken from  Encyclopedia of diasporas By Carol R. Ember, Melvin Ember, Ian A. Skoggard, Human Relations Area Files, inc  


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