From Frontier to Heartland
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This chapter examines historical movements of overland Yunnanese migration from southwest China to Upper Burma and the community’s transformation under British rule on both sides of the Sino-Burmese border. After a brief review on pre-colonial, free frontier exchanges, it traces the colonial impact on the Yunnanese from the mid-nineteenth century onward. In response to the establishment of a colonial regime and the demarcation of a national border, the Yunnanese adjusted their orientations to either enhance their Chinese affiliation or comply with colonial ethnic perception and re-established a migrant community centered in Mandalay. As the twentieth century progressed, Yunnanese traders and intellectuals also ventured out to explore new opportunities in the colonial capital and Lower Burma.