Is Han even an ethnicity?

Dec 2011
3,492
Mountains and Jungles of Southern China
#1
I've seen the word "Han Chinese" been brought up countless times on this forum and on other forums. Many people equate Han with Chinese, but some people don't think so.

But let's ask an important question first. Is Han even an ethnicity? When was the term "Han Chinese" first appeared in Chinese records? And when did it take on the meaning of "Han ethnicity"?

I always have the impression that the so-called Han Chinese is just a melting pot of various East Asian ethnic groups assimilated by the Sinitic culture over the past several thousand years. And even to this day there are still many differences among various Han Chinese groups in terms of culture, dialect/language, and physical appearance, etc.
 
Jun 2014
1,019
Earth
#2
Yes. Just because a group can be broken down into subgroups does not negate the group.

People with commonalities identify as "Han", so yes it is an ethnicity.

I would like to know when it appeared. I remember reading somewhere on this forum it is rather new, and really only used to describe people in China, where as Chinese outside are called "Hua". So I would guess at earliest it came about during the Qing. Just a guess
 
Dec 2011
3,492
Mountains and Jungles of Southern China
#3
And I also have the impression that the use of the term "Han Chinese" in its modern context is largely a creation of the nationalist movements of the late 19th and early 20th century, related to the founding of ROC.
 
Oct 2011
7,654
MARE PACIFICVM
#4
In my circle, Han Chinese is used to describe the majority population of China which does not fall into one of the designated minority groups such as the Tibetans etc.

I've no idea how historically accurate using the term in this way is.
 
Dec 2011
3,492
Mountains and Jungles of Southern China
#5
In my circle, Han Chinese is used to describe the majority population of China which does not fall into one of the designated minority groups such as the Tibetans etc.
But my question is can such a large and heterogeneous population all be categorized under one term called "Han Chinese"?

I'm dubious about the validity of such a classification.
 
Oct 2011
7,654
MARE PACIFICVM
#6
But my question is can such a large and heterogeneous population all be categorized under one term called "Han Chinese"?

I'm dubious about the validity of such a classification.
Definitely an interesting question. I'm certainly not qualified to make a judgement one way or the other.

Is there Han nationalism or any kind of Han movement within China? Do most Chinese identify as Han? Is it a cultural designation or just a biological/genetic term?
 
Jun 2015
139
....
#8
As far as I understood Han Chinese, are the Chinese peoples of the core lands of China. This for me would exclude Tibet, Manchuria, Xinjiang etc. At least that's what I thought.
 
May 2009
1,295
#10
I think Chinese people use the label "Han" the way many Americans talk about "real Americans." I think it's more of a cultural group identity than any kind of genetic or biological one. And yes, technically "American" is a nationality, not an ethnicity, but to many Americans there is also a racial and even religious component. A "real American" is a white, blonde-haired, blue-eyed midwestern Christian. It's a stupid, racist idea, but many people cling it. I think the Chinese treat "Han" in much the same way. Han are the "real Chinese" and others are just minorities.