This introductory chapter focuses on the overlapping and mingling of distinct nomadic and sedentary cultures and European and Asian civilizations along the Argun. It shows that the study of the multiple ways in which the Sino-Russian border was negotiated on the ground remains a lacuna in the scholarship. Such neglect is all the more striking in light of the landmark's geopolitical significance and pivotal role in world history, its unique and radical changes over time, and the growth of general academic interest in borders. Here, the chapter provides a new focus for research before turning to how the Argun Basin was populated over the course of centuries. It illustrates the changing patterns of population in such an inhospitable area.
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