From voice to silence: the shrinking space for Uyghur narratives of belonging in reform China
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Based on a close reading of three narratives, the article explores subtle shifts in the textual strategies employed by Uyghur intellectuals in Xinjiang in conveying identity discourses in different phases of the reform era. Although it is tempting to view these texts in terms of resistance, they are better approached as sites of accommodation, motivated by the wish to bolster a sense of Uyghur belonging without jeopardizing individual and communal self-preservation. Increasing political pressure on indigenous knowledge production culminated in 2016 in brutal silencing. Shifting textual strategies in the preceding decades demonstrate how native narratives creatively shaped and redefined representations of the ‘Uyghur’ as an ethnic group in constant dialogical negotiation with the changing socio-political context; the texts can thus be read as sensitive barometers of policy changes.
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|Published - Jan 2021