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“The Barbarian and the Babe,” The World of Chinese

New article for The World of Chinese Magazine…

The Barbarian and the Babe

The story of An Lushan has been told so many times that it qualifies as Tang Dynasty slash fic. There is the aging emperor, his sensual concubine, and the exotic foreign warrior who comes between them. But this story is far more Byzantine than an 8th-century love triangle gone horribly sideways. An Lushan, and the rebellion he launched against the emperor, was representative of a complex interplay of forces between Tang China and the civilizations of Central and North Asia. While the Tang Empire managed to survive An Lushan’s challenge, Chinese culture would be forever changed. An outward looking state turned inward. A culture known for its openness and cosmopolitanism began to harbor deep anxieties about foreign elements in the culture. The state which emerged from the ashes of the An Lushan rebellion was brittle, defensive, and increasingly nativist.

Also be sure to listen to our new podcast Barbarians at the Gate. Our first episode is a deep dive into the history of the An Lushan rebellion.