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Xinjiang and Islam
Readings for Unit 3: Muslims
Monday, April 13: The Hui: History, Religion, Identity
Today we approach the study of Islamic peoples in China from a historical perspective. To prepare, read your first assigned textbook, Jonathan N. Lipman's Familiar Strangers: A History of Muslims in Northwest China. A 300-500 word review of this book is due on Friday, April 17.
In class today, I will present a synthetic view bringing the history of Chinese Muslims up to date. This will help you tie in recent history with materials about ethnicity, including
Finally, no section on Chinese Muslims would be complete without saying at least something about their religion and the way it developed in China. James Frankel's summary of the writings of Liu Zhi, an early Qing Islamic Scholar, gives a quick idea of how Chinese and Islamic thought could be not just reconciled but integrated.
Wednesday, April 15: Xinjiang: Urban, Agricultural and Pastoral Peoples
It is important that we not lump all Muslims in China together. The most populous Muslim minority in Xinjiang are the Uyghurs, an urban and agricultural Turkic people, living in the region's oases. How they got to be Uyghurs is explained in Sean Roberts's Imagining Uyghurstan, in Central Asian Survey, 2010. The Kazaks and Kirghiz, as pastoralists, have a very different relationship with the state and its civilizing projects than do the Uyghur. Astrid Cerny has written the only recent ethnography of Kazaks in China, and you should look at the chapters on fences and meat from her recent doctoral dissertation.
It's also important to remember that about 45% of the population of Xinjiang are Han Chinese, most of them moved to the region since 1950. Many of the immigrant Hans came as part of the Bingtuan, or Military Construction Corps. Some of the history of this unusual colonial organization is described by Tom Cliff in his Peripheral Urbanism.
Monday, April 20: Xinjiang: Modern Life
It is easy, in the context of stories about politics and about ethnic conflicts, to forget that people everywhere have everyday lives and local cultures. Fortunately, there is now a superb book about everyday life in a Uyghur neighborhood in the city of Guldja or Yining, Jay Dautcher's Down a Narrow Road (Harvard University Asia Center, 2009). A 300-500 word review of this book is Due on Friday, April 24.
Today we will have a guest panel to talk about everyday life in Xinjiang. Dr. Talant Mawkanuli, a Kazak professor in the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Civilzations, Mr. Mutallip Anwar, a Uyghur doctoral student in the UW English Department, and Ms. Jian Ge (Gladys) a Han doctoral student in the UW Anthropology Department, all of whom grew up in Xinjiang. In preparation for their talks, please have a look the blog by another UW student, The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia. Watch at least two films, of your own choosing, on that blog, and also look at the entry on the Bingtuan Museum, as well as Ian Johnson's new review of Carolyn Drake's new book of Xinjiang photographs.
Wednesday, April 22: Xinjiang: Ethnic Conflict
Most of what has been written in Western languages about Xinjiang is about the ethnic conflict between Uyghurs and Han. Most of it is also oversimplified and, alas, couched in the discourse of Islamic politics. Nevertheless, ethnic conflict in Xinjiang is real, which is all the more reason you need to get a deeper and less simplistic view of it. Start with three readings by Gardner Bovingdon:
Then for a further account of the 2009 riots, read James Millward's informative article, Does the 2009 Urumchi violence mark a turning point?.