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Community Matters in Xinjiang: 1880-1949

Towards a Historical Anthropology of the Uyghur

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Ildikó Bellér-Hann

Based on a wide range of Western and local materials, this book offers an introduction to the historical anthropology of the Muslim Uyghur of Xinjiang from the late 19th century to 1949. The author argues that social relations in this era were shaped at all levels by the principles of reciprocity and community. Particular attention is paid to the domestic domain and to life-cycle and religious rituals. This is the first time that Xinjiang has been approached from the perspective of historical
anthropology. Giving substance to the concept of tradition which modern Uyghurs invoke when constructing their collective identity, Bellér-Hann's study also has implications for contemporary analyses of inter-ethnic relations in this sensitive region.

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Bellér-Hann, Ildikó

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Ildikó BellÉr-hann

Abstract

The article explores popular rituals among residents of a poor neighbourhood in Almaty, the former capital of Kazakhstan. It focuses on the activities of Uyghur healers who mediate between humans and the spirit world. These inspirational practices are so thoroughly intertwined with Islamic symbols and assumptions that simply to label them shamanistic is inadequate and certainly unacceptable to the actors themselves. The efflorescence of healing activities among the Uyghur in the changed political and economic climate of post-Soviet Central Asia demonstrates continuities with past practices, which have some of their roots in ancestor cults. Invention of tradition is compatible with inventive strategies on the part of the healers, who are competing in a lucrative market. The success of individual healers depends on a number of interrelated factors, including intra-group divisions in the Uyghur diaspora in Kazakhstan, particularly that which separates early arrivals from more recent migrants.

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Chris Hann and Ildikó Bellér-Hann

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Edited by Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Birgit N. Schlyter and Jun Sugawara

Building on the rich scholarly legacy of Gunnar Jarring, the Swedish Turkologist and diplomat, the fourteen contributions by sixteen authors representing a variety of disciplines in the humanities and the social sciences provide an insight into ongoing research trends in Uyghur and Xinjiang Studies. In one way or other all the chapters explore how new research in the fields of history, linguistics, anthropology and folklore can contribute to our understanding of Xinjiang’s past and present, simultaneously pointing to those social and knowledge practices that Uyghurs today can claim as part of their traditions in order to reproduce and perpetuate their cultural identity.
Contributors include: Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Rahile Dawut, Arienne Dwyer, Fredrik Fällman, Chris Hann, Dilmurat Mahmut, Takahiro Onuma, Alexandre Papas, Eric Schluessel, Birgit Schlyter, Joanne Smith Finley, Rune Steenberg Jun Sugawara, Äsäd Sulaiman, Abdurishid Yakup, Thierry Zarcone.
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Edited by Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Birgit N. Schlyter and Jun Sugawara

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Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Birgit N. Schlyter and Jun Sugawara

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Series:

Ildikó Bellér-Hann, Birgit N. Schlyter and Jun Sugawara