Uyghur historical novels as social commentary (1985‒2015)

Anna-Luise Kraayvanger (Ph.D. Fellow)

On the basis of carefully selected examples, this project explores the development of the Uyghur historical novel as a site for the construction of group identity via literary representations of oasis history. Dealing with important episodes of Xinjiang’s pre-socialist history, the novels in question tend to be “factional”: the authors focus on historically verifiable events and prominent figures who feature in collective memory but add numerous details obscured by oral transmission.

Such works are popular because they are widely considered to be authentic representations of local history and because they construct group identity through individual life histories. The project will explore  literary tools, topoi, plots, characters, narrative style and other strategies used by the authors to express different levels of collective identity, while perpetuating the Central Asian literary heritage and incorporating other external cultural  influences, always within the officially defined boundaries.