Exploring the Developing Formation of the Hakka Community in Southern China

Cheng-Hui Lin
The developing formation of the Hakka community in Southern China could be divided into two stages: the formation of common culture and the awakening of the Hakka consciousness. During the 13th century, a group of people who had the same dialect and culture inhabited in cluster along the border area of Fujian, Guangdong, and Jiangxi provinces; however they didn't call themselves "the Hakkas" at that time. During the Ming-Qing period , there was an excessive population in the border area of
more » ... border area of Fujian, Guang-dong, and Jiangxi, so the Qing government opened up the coastal areas for them to live in. As a result, a great number of the people who spoke the Hak-ka dialect moved to the east coastal areas of Guangdong, commonly known as the Pearl River Delta. As they lived away from home and rented lands from the local residents, who spoke Standard Cantonese, conflicts inevitably occurred. By the 19th century, conflicts between the local residents and the Hakkas broke out more frequently. Moreover, in the historical records written by the Cantonese, the immigrants who spoke the Hakka dialect were described as "fei-han" (not the Han people). Such biased documents on conflicts and the discrimination caused the Hakka literati to be concerned about Global Hakka Studies, Novemer 2013, 1: 57-122 60 the truth of their lineage. The Hakka elites vigorously asserted that their ancestors came from China's Central Plain, the core birthplace of the Chinese civilization. They emphasized that their dialect originated from the ancient language of the Central Plain, too. In the meantime, the Basel Catholic missionaries , who proselytized in the area, also took part in the developing formation of the Hakka community and culture. As a consequence, the "periph-eral Hakka" became the "center Hakka," at least in the Ziaying prefecture.