Situating the Uyghurs Between China and Central Asia  book cover
1st Edition

Situating the Uyghurs Between China and Central Asia

ISBN 9780754670414
Published December 28, 2007 by Routledge
280 Pages

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Book Description

Drawing together distinguished international scholars, this volume offers a unique insight into the social and cultural hybridity of the Uyghurs. It bridges a gap in our understanding of this group, an officially recognized minority mainly inhabiting the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of the People's Republic of China, with significant populations also living in the Central Asian states. The volume is comparative and interdisciplinary in focus: historical chapters explore the deeper problems of Uyghur identity which underpin the contemporary political situation; and sociological and anthropological comparisons of a range of practices from music culture to life-cycle rituals illustrate the dual, fused nature of contemporary Uyghur social and cultural identities. Contributions by 'local' Uyghur authors working within Xinjiang also demonstrate the possibilities for Uyghur advocacy in social and cultural policy-making, even within the current political climate.

Table of Contents

Contents: Introduction, Ildikó Bellér-Hann, M. Cristina Cesàro, Rachel Harris, and Joanne Smith Finley; Part 1 The Historical Perspective: 'Us and them' in 18th and 19th century Xinjiang, Laura J. Newby; The Uyghurs as a part of Central Asian commonality: Soviet historiography on the Uyghurs, Ablet Kamalov. Part 2 Uyghur Culture: Issues of Music, Literature and Language: Cultural politics and the pragmatics of resistance: reflexive discourses on culture and history, Nathan Light; Situating the 12 Muqam: between the Arab world and the Tang court, Rachel Harris; Uyghur literary representations of Xinjiang realities, Michael Friederich; Hybrid name culture in Xinjiang: problems surrounding Uyghur name/surname practices and their reform, Äsäd Sulayman. Part 3 Socio-Cultural Practices: Situating Uyghur life cycle rituals between China and Central Asia, Ildikó Bellér-Hann; Shrine pilgrimage and sustainable tourism among the Uyghurs: Central Asian ritual traditions in the context of China's development policies, Rahilä Dawut; The emergence of Muslim reformism in contemporary Xinjiang: implications for the Uyghurs' positioning between a Central Asian and Chinese context, Edmund Waite. Part 4 Negotiation of Multiple and Hybrid Uyghur Identities: Polo, Läghmän, So Säy: situating Uyghur food between Central Asia and China, M. Cristina Cesàro; 'The dawn of the East': a portrait of a Uyghur community between China and Kazakhstan, Sean R. Roberts; 'Ethnic anomaly' or modern Uyghur survivor? A case study of the Minkaohan hybrid identity in Xinjiang, Joanne Smith Finley; Conclusion; Index.

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Ildikó Bellér-Hann is Research Associate at the Centre for Oriental Studies, Martin Luther University, Germany. M. Cristina Cesàro is an Independent Scholar from Italy. Rachel Harris is Lecturer in Ethnomusicology at the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, UK. Joanne Smith Finley is Lecturer in Chinese at Newcastle University, UK.


This splendid study of the Uyghurs, a Turkic ethnic group living mostly in western China and Central Asia, is distinguished from other studies by its holistic approach. It examines Uyghur experience not only through politics and history, but with emphasis also on cultural matters like music and food. This is a major contribution to our understanding of these important people. Colin Mackerras, Griffith University, Australia 'Some of the best scholarship, from history and literature and music, to anthropology and sociology, is represented in this collection, which emerged from a conference at SOAS in 2002...the contributors are all experts in their various fields and are speaking largely to other specalists on the region. However, for one who knows a little about the region, it is a very worthwhile collection that provides insights into the current situation of the Uyghur from a determinedly disengaged scholarly stance...' The Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology '...this collection provides students and scholars alike with a valuable introduction, and more, to the authors' multiple perspectives on the Uyghurs. Meanwhile, contributions by three Uyghur authors demonstrate the great progress that the volume has made in drawing together local scholars...a "must-read" and certainly one of the best publications on the Uyghurs in recent years.' The Journal of the Royal Anthropological Institute 'Through twelve contributions, this well-organised volume, while examining different aspects of this complexity, maintains a consistent analysis on the paradoxical identity of the Uighur defined as "in-between-ness".' Central Eurasian Reader