People

Benno Weiner

Assistant Professor
Ph.D.: Columbia University, 2012
Department Member Since: 2015

Biography

Dr. Weiner is a historian of Modern China, Tibet and Inner Asia. His research revolves around China’s contested and possibly incomplete transition from empire to nation-state and in particular the processes and problematics of twentieth-century state and nation building within China’s ethnic minority regions. Before joining CMU, he taught at Appalachian State University in North Carolina.

Dr. Weiner is currently completing the manuscript for his first book, The Chinese Revolution on the Tibetan Frontier: State Building, National Integration and Socialist Transformation on the Margins of Maoist China. It is among the first major studies of a "nationality minority region" during the formative years of the People’s Republic of China (PRC), and the first to examine early efforts by the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to integrate the vast region known to Tibetans as Amdo into the PRC. Applying the theoretical lens of imperial transition to the methodology of local history, it argues that in 1950s Amdo Party leaders implicitly understood both the administrative and epistemological obstacles to transforming a vast multiethnic empire into a unitary, socialist nation-state. For much of the decade the CCP therefore employed a “subimperial” strategy, referred to as the United Front, as a means to “gradually,” “voluntarily,” and “organically” bridge this gap between empire and nation. However, the United Front ultimately lost out to a revolutionary impatience that demanded immediate national integration and socialist transformation. This led in 1958 to communization, “democratic reforms,” and large-scale rebellion. Despite successfully identifying the tensions between empire and nation, and attempting to creatively resolve them, empire was eliminated before the process of de-imperialization and nationalization was completed. Like so many of the world’s most intractable conflicts, he therefore contends that at the root of the Sino-Tibetan conflict lies the unresolved legacy of empire.

Dr. Weiner is also currently co-editing and contributing to two multi-authored volumes, Re-Remembered Meetings: Post-Mao Retellings of Early Tibetan Encounters with the Chinese Communist Party (Brill) and Teaching the Mongol Empire in World History (SUNY Press). His other publications include “In the Footsteps of Garaman or Han Yinu? Rebellion, Nationality Autonomy and Popular Memory among the Salar of Xunhua County,” in Muslims in Amdo Tibetan Society: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches, edited by Horlemann, Nietupski, and Hille (Lexington, in press), and “Tibet in China? China in Tibet: An Historical Overview" in the Handbook on Minorities in China, edited by Zang Xiaowei (Elgar, forthcoming).

Publications

“The Aporia of Re-remembering: Wenshi Ziliao and the post-Mao Writing of Amdo’s Early Liberation Period.” In Re-remembered Meetings: Post-Mao Retellings of Early Tibetan Encounters with the Chinese Communist Party. Edited by Benno Weiner, Françoise Robin and Robert Barnett. Leiden: Brill, forthcoming.
“W(h)ither the Mongols? The Mongols in East and Inner Asia after Empire.” In Teaching the Mongol Empire in World History: Rise, Rule and Legacy. Edited by Benno Weiner, Lynne Myles and Eric Dinmore. Albany: SUNY Press, forthcoming.
“In the Footsteps of Garaman or Han Yinu? Rebellion, Nationality Autonomy and Popular Memory among the Salar of Xunhua County.” In Muslims in Amdo Tibetan Society: Multi-Disciplinary Approaches, edited by Bianca Horlemann, Paul Nietupski, and Marie-Paul Hille. Lanham, MD: Lexington, 2015.
“Tibet in China? China in Tibet: An Historical Overview.” In Handbook of Ethnic Minorities in China. Edited by Zang Xiaowei. Cheltenham, UK: Elgar, 2016.

Courses Taught

Modern China I
Chinese Culture and Society
China and Its Neighbors: Minorities, Conquerors and Tribute Bearers
Tibet in History and Imagination

Contact Info

Department of History
Baker Hall 242-A
P: 412.268.1610
F: 412.268.1019
bweiner@andrew.cmu.edu