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The Boxer Rebellion

Duration:
45 minutes
First broadcast:
Thursday 19 March 2009

In the hot summer of 1900, Peking, the capital of China, was under heavy siege. But the surrounding forces were not foreign, they were Chinese. This was the Boxer Rebellion, the moment when the 'Society of Righteous and Harmonious Fists', known as the boxers, purged China of foreign merchants and missionaries. The Boxers had came out of the northern provinces, they claimed their fists were stronger than fire and they were invincible to bullets. But they were also desperate and starving and they blamed foreigners for their plight. In the end, the Boxer rebellion failed but it changed China and, more than a hundred years later, the spirit of the Boxer Rebellion lives on. They may have lost their battles but they may have won their war.

  • Further Reading

    Bickers, Robert, and R. G. Tiedemann (eds.), The Boxers, China, and the World (Lanham, Md.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007)

    Cohen, Paul A., History in Three Keys: The Boxers as Event, Experience, and Myth (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997)

    Elliott, Jane E., Some Did It for Civilisation, Some Did It for Their Country: A Revised View of the Boxer War (Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2002)

    Esherick, Joseph W., The Origins of the Boxer Uprising (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1987)

    Hevia, James L., “Looting Beijing: 1860, 1900”, in Lydia Liu (ed.), Tokens of Exchange: The Problem of Translation in Global Circulation (Durham, N.C.: Duke University Press, 1999), pp. 192-213

    Hoe, Susanna, Women at the Siege: Peking 1900 (Oxford: Holo Books, The Women’s History Press, 2000)

    Preston, Diana, Besieged in Peking: The Story of the 1900 Boxer Rising (London: Constable, 1999)
    American edition: The Boxer Rebellion: The Dramatic Story of China’s War on Foreigners that Shook the World in the Summer of 1900 (New York: Walker, 2000)

    Sharf, Frederic A., & Peter Harrington, China 1900: The Eyewitnesses Speak. The Experience of Westerners in China during the Boxer Rebellion, as Described by Participants in Letters, Diaries and Photographs (London: Greenhill Books; Mechanicsburg, Pa.: Stackpole Books, 2000)

    Xiang, Lanxin, The Origins of the Boxer War: A Multinational Study (London & New York: Routledge Curzon, 2003)

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