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In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, the region of Liangshan in southwest China was plagued by violence. Indigenous Nuosu communities clashed with Han migrants, the Qing and Republican states, and local warlords. Large numbers of Nuosu and Han alike were kidnapped and killed in widespread patterns of captive taking. The first English-language history of Liangshan, A Frontier Made Lawless challenges the view that the persistent turmoil was the result of population pressures, opium production, and the growth of local paramilitary groups. Instead, Joseph Lawson argues that the conflict resulted from the lack of a common framework for dealing with property disputes, compounded by the repeated destabilization of the region by turmoil elsewhere in China. Drawing on a range of sources including court records, locals’ memoirs, regional government records and surveys, and Nuosu epic poetry, Lawson adds new insights and comparative perspectives to the study of conflict in Liangshan.