Between Homogenization and Fragmentation
Textual Practices as Strategies of Integration and Identity Maintenance among the Uyghurs of Xinjiang, China (20th‒21st centuries)
Using the concepts of homogenization and fragmentation, this interdisciplinary project explores textual strategies employed by Turkic speaking Muslims (nowadays known as the Uyghur) to demarcate and sustain their ethno-religious group identity and negotiate their subjecthood within the Chinese polity in the 20th and early 21st centuries. It emphasizes multiple, cross-cutting loyalties and senses of belonging, indigenous subjectivity, local practice and agency.
Three of the four distinct text corpora to be studied were produced in the post-reform era (1980–2010s). These represent fiction, local history and native ethnography. The fourth explores a large corpus of legal manuscripts produced by Islamic courts during the republican era (1911–1949).
This interdisciplinary project focuses on strategies of knowledge production among the Uyghur, a 10 million strong Turkic-speaking Muslim minority concentrated in China's far northwest. Narratives pertaining to regional history and to group-specific social practices are enabled by affirmative policies associated with ethnic recognition.
These allow collective identity to be asserted and perpetuated, while making sure that it remains within the interpretive framework of national scholarship. Local authors accommodate to the main tenets of the latter and respect the prescribed boundaries.
Using the concepts of homogenization and fragmentation, the project explores the narrative strategies used by local elites in distinct historical periods to produce knowledge and construct group identity in the realms of history, literature, ethnography and law.
Historical knowledge production on the margins: history-making among the Uyghur of Xinjiang in post-reform China (1985‒2015)
Ildikó Bellér-Hann (Principal investigator)
Uyghur historical novels as social commentary (1985‒2015)
Anna-Luise Kraayvanger (PhD fellow)
Reclaiming the oasis. The localization of customs in Xinjiang (1985‒2015)
Rune Steenberg (Post-doctoral fellow)
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2020. “Uyghur Religion”. In: S. Feuchtwang (ed.): Handbook on Religion in China. Cheltenham: Edward Elgar, 338–360.
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2020. “From Voice to Silence: the shrinking space for Uyghur narratives of belonging in reform China”. Asian Ethnicity Special Issue, Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Aysima Mirsultan and Rune Steenberg (eds) Voiced and Voiceless in Xinjiang. Minorities, elites and narrative construction. https://doi.org/10.1080/14631369.2020.1781532 (print version and special issue due in 2021).
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2020. “Uyghurerne, en muslimsk minoritet i Kinas grænseland”, Grænser, Tværkultur nr. 10, Årbog for ToRS 2019, 72–81.
Mirsultan, Aysima 2020. “Divorce settlement among the Uyghur during the republican era in Xinjiang,” Central Asian Survey (published online), in print: 2021. https://doi.org/10.1080/02634937.2020.1796592
Mirsultan, Aysima 2020. “Narrating communal and personal identity: Fazil shangye in the Kucha documents (1934-1949)” Asian Ethnicity Special Issue, I. Bellér-Hann, A. Mirsultan and R. Steenberg (eds): Voiced and Voiceless in Xinjiang. Minorities, elites and narrative construction.
Steenberg, Rune 2020. “The formal side of informality. Non-bureaucratic organisation, pride and books among Uyghur traders.” Special Issue edited by H. Karrar and S. Fehling: Informal Markets and Trade in Central Asia and the Caucasus. Central Asian Survey 39.1 (2020): 46–62.
Steenberg, Rune (Tore Steenberg Reyhé) 2020. “Document the quotidian transformations of the pandemic.” Social Anthropology (2020, online).
Steenberg, Rune (forthcoming) 2021. “Uyghur customs. The rise and fall of a modernist topos in vernacular Uyghur publication and scholarship 1985–2017”. Asian Ethnicity Special issue, I. Bellér-Hann, A. Mirsultan and R. Steenberg (eds): Voiced and Voiceless in Xinjiang. Minorities, elites and narrative construction. https://doi.org/10.1080/14631369.2020.1819201
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2019. “Islam, legitimation, identity: Uyghur historical narratives from Eastern Xinjiang”. In: Y. Friedmann (ed.): Muslim minorities in modern times. Jerusalem: Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, 38–68.
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2019. “Setting an example: narrative strategies and values in the shaping of local history in Xinjiang”. In: N. Purnakcheband and F. Saalfeld (eds.) Aus den Tiefenschichten der Texte. Beiträge zur turko-iranischen Welt von der Islamisierung bis zur Gegenwart. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 293-311.
Mirsultan, Aysima 2019. “Manuscripts of Alisher Navoi’s works in the Berlin State library.” In: The cultural legacy of Uzbekistan: Collections of the federal republic of Germany. Tashkent, 164-181.
Mirsultan, Aysima 2019. “Martin Hartmann und seine Handschriftensammlung in der Staatsbibliothek zu Berlin.“ In: Z. Özertural and G. Şilfeler (eds.): Unter dem Bodhi-Baum. Göttingen, 225-233.
Mirsultan, Aysima 2019. (Transl.) “Mirsultan Osmanov: Über zwei Phrasen in Kutadgu Bilig“, In: Z. Özertural / G. Şilfeler (eds.): Unter dem Bodhi-Baum. Göttingen, 247-252.
Steenberg, Rune and Alessandro Rippa 2019. "Development for all? State schemes, security, and marginalization in Kashgar, Xinjiang." Critical Asian Studies, 51(2), 274-295.
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2018. “Silk Road Connectivities and the Construction of Local History in Eastern Xinjiang”. In: C. Hann (ed.) Realising Eurasia. Empire and Connectivity during Three Millennia. Special Issue of Comparativ 28(4), 93-119.
Mirsultan, Aysima 2018. “Old Uighur as preserved in modern Uighur.” In: M. Kaçalin (ed.) Beşbalıklı Şingko Şeli Tutung Anısına Uluslararası Eski Uygurca çalıştayı Bildirileri, 4.-6. Haziran 2011. [Papers of the International Workshop Old Uyghur Studies in Memory of Şingko Şeli Tutung from Beşbalık, June 4-6 ]. Ankara (Türk Dil Kurumu yayınları), 57-69.
Mirsultan, Aysima and Michael Knüppel 2018. “In memoriam Mirsultan Osmanov (31.07.1929-01.12.2017) “. Journal of Oriental and African Studies 27. 382-384.
Mirsultan, Aysima and Michael Knüppel 2018. “Schriftenverzeichnis Mirsultan Osmanov.“ Journal of Oriental and African Studies 27. 384-390.
Steenberg, Rune 2018. “Infrastructure and Community: Lessons from Two Decades Development Initiatives on the Xinjiang Side of the CPEC.” In: F. Javid (ed) Connectivity Through One Belt One Road (OBOR). Between Central Asia & South Asia. Department of International Relations, Federal Urdu University of Arts, Science and Technology, Karachi, 97–105.
Steenberg Reyhé, Rune 2018. “Qing Policies and Close Marriage: Transforming Kinship in Kashgar”. In: D. Brophy and T. Onuma (eds.) Xinjiang in the Context of Central Eurasian Transformations. Tokyo: Toyo Bunko, 3-28.
Steenberg Reyhé, Rune 2018. “Accumulating Trust. Uyghur traders in the Sino–Kyrgyz border trade after 1991”. In: A. Horstmann, A. Rippa and R. Bolding Bennike (eds.) Routledge Handbook on Asian borderlands. London and New York: Routledge, 294-303.
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó, Birgit Schlyter and Jun Sugawara (eds) 2017. "Kashgar Revisited. Uyghur Studies in memory of Ambassador Gunnar Jarring". Leiden: Brill.
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2017. “Xinjiang Close-Up” (Review article). The Journal of Asian Studies 76(44), 1092–1100.
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2016. "Oasis history in Eastern Xinjiang: a contested field?”. In: S. Jacquesson (ed.) History making in Central and Northern Eurasia: contemporary actors and practices. Wiesbaden: Reichert Verlag, 79–99.
Bellér-Hann, Ildikó 2016. "Hapiz Niyaz: Cadre, Muslim, Historian. A local intellectual in Eastern Xinjiang". Études orientales 27–28, 87–115.
- Martin Lavička (Department of Asian Studies, Palacký University Olomouc)
Internal (ToRS, University of Copenhagen)
- Ingeborg Baldauf (Zentralasienseminar, Humboldt University, Berlin)
- Ondřej Klimeš (Academy of Sciences of the Czech Republic, Prague)
- Eric Schluessel (Department of History, University of Montana)
- Joanne Smith Finley (School of Modern Languages, New Castle University, New Castle)
- Jun Sugawara (Centre for the Studies on Ethnic Minorities in Northwest China, Lanzhou University, Lanzhou)
The project is funded by the Danish Velux Fonden (Velux Foundations)
Events and activities
22-26 June 2020
Workshop “Reading Sources from the Uyghur Homelands” by Rune Steenberg (online) at Palacky University, Olomouc, Czech Republic