‘Ethnic Anomaly’ or Modern Uyghur Survivor? A Case Study of the Minkaohan Hybrid Identity in Xinjiang (2007)

Author(s): Smith Finley J

  • : Ethnic Anomaly

Abstract: The modern Uyghurs, caught politically, economically, and culturally between Central Asia and the People’s Republic of China, constitute a fascinating subject for the study of identity formation. A sizeable body of knowledge has now been amassed on relational identities, constructed in an inter-ethnic context, and on intra-ethnic socio-cultural identities among both rural and urban Uyghur. One area that remains relatively unexplored is that of the self-identity of the minkaohan (Uyghurs educated in the Chinese language at Han schools). The minkaohan, popularly known as “Xinjiang’s 14th nationality,” are considered by most actors - minkaohan themselves, other Uyghurs, Han Chinese - to be neither wholly Uyghur (as a Central Asian people) nor wholly Chinese and are thus most susceptible to developing a hybrid, dual identity that situates itself both within and between the two. Borrowing sociological and psychological perspectives from studies of multiple and biracial identity, this paper illustrates the ambiguities of the minkaohan experience - conflicts of loyalty, ‘internalised oppression,’ situational negotiation, and survival through hybridity - through the case study of one individual, her family, friends and colleagues.

  • Short Title: Ethnic Anomaly
  • Book Title: Situating the Uyghurs Between China and Central Asia
  • Volume: 3
  • Pages: 219-237
  • Publisher: Ashgate
  • Publication type: Book chapter
  • Bibliographic status: Published

    Keywords: Central Asia, China, Uyghurs, in-between-ness, cultural hybridity, identity


    Dr Joanne Smith Finley
    Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies