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Title: ‘Uyghur’ or ‘Muslim’? Identity Development Among the Uyghurs of Central Asia and China
Authors: Abdulbakieva, Malika
Keywords: Uyghurs
Issue Date: 2018
Abstract: This Thesis is a comparative analysis of the two Uyghur branches: “Xinjiang Uyghurs” and post-Soviet Uyghurs, with the closer ethnographic study of the latter by taking the case study of the Uyghurs of Kyrgyzstan. Both in post-Soviet Central Asia and Xinjiang, ethnic Uyghurs have long had a strong sense of nationalism and selfdetermination. As the world changed with the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and an accelerated neoliberal globalization, so has the way in which peoples, including Uyghurs, define who they are. Taking into account globalization and modernity, this thesis examines the identity development of the Uyghurs, presents a political history of the Uyghur people, and analyzes the Uyghur communities in the studies while elaborating on the key issues of ethnic identity, its external and internal contestation and negotiation. The above is done to answer the following research questions: What are the identities of Uyghurs in post-Soviet Central Asia and China? How, if at all, have these identities been changing since the collapse of the Soviet Union? And, how do Uyghurs balance the notions of ethnicity, religion, and possibly political ideology? For the examination of identity development of Uyghurs of Xinjiang, I mostly rely on secondary data, supplemented by primary data via participant observation, and interviews of Uyghurs from China who currently live in Turkey and Netherlands. For the study of identity development among Central Asian Uyghurs, I mostly rely on primary data collected through the methods of participant observation, survey, and interviews. Through these methods, this study has found out that both the Uyghurs of Central Asia and China have strong ethnic nationalist sentiments which allow neither their full assimilation into Chinese nor Central Asian societies. Yet, Muslim (for some, Salafi Muslim) identity is replacing the formerly primary role of ethnic identity.
Appears in Collections:2018

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