Project

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Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and Chinese Territoriality: Development of Infrastructure and Han Migration into the Region

Applicant Znoj Heinzpeter
Number 132387
Funding scheme Project funding (Div. I-III)
Research institution Institut für Sozialanthropologie Universität Bern
Institution of higher education University of Berne - BE
Main discipline Ethnology
Start/End 01.11.2010 - 31.07.2014
Approved amount 470'529.00
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All Disciplines (2)

Discipline
Ethnology
Political science

Keywords (9)

territoriality; borderlands; space; Chinese state; urban development; Xinjiang; Uyghurs; roads; Han migration

Lay Summary (English)

Lead
Lay summary
Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region borders eight countries, is rich in natural resources and land, and is indispensable to the Chinese state also as a corridor for resource-transfer from Central Asia. In order to prevent its secession and disintegration, the Chinese state has invested substantial efforts in strategies of territorial delineation and control in the region. These include, most prominently, the operation of Production and Construction Corps; government-encouraged Han migration into the region; urbanization; the development of a string of border-cities; and the development of transportation network within the region and between the region and the rest of the country.The construction of infrastructure (e.g. roads, railways) is fundamental to the processes of delineation of state territory and should facilitate the material and symbolic integration of the border regions with the rest of the country. Roads integrate distant regions more closely within the national network, connect villages with regional centers, open areas to migration and the development of industry, and have a great impact on social life and employment patterns. Thus, in the first part of this study, we are going to explore the construction and modernization of roads and streets as a strategy to increase spatial control of the Chinese state in Xinjiang.The second part of the project focuses on urban development of the region. Cities in Xinjiang have for a long time been shaped by the trade flow along the Silk Road crossing the region from East to West. Today, the old towns are rebuilt and new infrastructural projects are implemented (e.g. Kashgar). Additionally new cities near oil extraction sites are constructed to accommodate the immigrating Han workers (e.g. Karamay). The newly built cities are no longer shaped by local traditions based on environmental conditions, but look like their counterparts in eastern China. In this part of the project we explore this modernization of urban landscape accompanied by an immense social transformation triggered by the immigrating Han Chinese.This study, based on data collected through participant observation, interviews and archival research, provides a fresh, theoretically grounded perspective on the ongoing ethnic and territorial conflict in Xinjiang. Our research will be helpful in understanding not only the policy of the Chinese government towards this contested region but also in the international arena. Moreover, it will offer insights into China's energy concerns, its engagement in the Central Asian region as well as China's stance in global security issues.
Direct link to Lay Summary Last update: 21.02.2013

Responsible applicant and co-applicants

Employees

Publications

Publication
Han Migration to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Between State Schemes and Migrants’ Strategies
Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka (2014), Han Migration to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Between State Schemes and Migrants’ Strategies, in Zeitschrift für Ethnologie, 138, 155-174.
Stadtraum im Wandel. Urbanisierung, Altstadterneuerung und ethnische Segregation im Uigurisch Autonomen Gebiet Xinjiang, Volksrepublik China
Kobi Madlen (2013), Stadtraum im Wandel. Urbanisierung, Altstadterneuerung und ethnische Segregation im Uigurisch Autonomen Gebiet Xinjiang, Volksrepublik China, in Tsantsa, 18, 109-113.
The Han minzu, fragmented identities and ethnicity
Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka (2013), The Han minzu, fragmented identities and ethnicity, in Journal of Asian Studies, 72, 849-871.
Fragmented Unity: The Han in the People’s Republic of China
Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka, Fragmented Unity: The Han in the People’s Republic of China, University of Washington Press, Seattle.
Introduction: Legal Frameworks and Regulations in the Mining Industry
Kobi Madlen and Helen Gambon, Introduction: Legal Frameworks and Regulations in the Mining Industry, in Haller Tobias (ed.).
The making of state territory in Xinjiang: Territorialization from within and without
Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka, The making of state territory in Xinjiang: Territorialization from within and without, in Altenburger Roland et al. (ed.).
The Open Cut – Mining, Transnational Corporations, and Local Populations
Haller Tobias Helen Gambon Madlen Kobi Thomas Niederberger and Irina Wenk (ed.), The Open Cut – Mining, Transnational Corporations, and Local Populations.
The script debate and language choices of the Uyghur in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China
Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka and Bahargül Hamut, The script debate and language choices of the Uyghur in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China, in Linguistik Online.

Collaboration

Group / person Country
Types of collaboration
Rahila Memet, PhD, Centre for Demographic Studies, Xinjiang University China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Baharguel Hamut, PhD, Institute of Islamic Studies, University of Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Shi Qingdong, PhD, Institute of Arid Ecology and Environment, Xinjiang University China (Asia)
- Research Infrastructure
Du Fachun, PhD, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Anwär Maimaitiming, Institute of Geography, Xinjiang Normal University China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Niels Thevs, PhD, Ernst-Moritz-Arndt-University Greifswald,Institute of Botany and Landscape Ecology Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Liu Ming, Anthropology Department, Qinghua University, Beijing China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Cai Shiyan, Centre for Economic Research, Aksu China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Alixir Kurban, PhD, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Xinjiang China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Elena Caprioni, PhD, Minzu University, Beijing China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. James Leibold, La Trobe University, Melbourne Australia (Oceania)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Niu Ruji, Vice-president of Xinjiang Normal University, Urumqi China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Cui Yanhu, Institute of Social and Cultural Anthropology, Xinjiang Normal University China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Wang Ning, Xinjiang Academy of Social Sciences, Urumqi China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Research Infrastructure
Raihan Kadeer, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing China (Asia)
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Dr. Anke von Kügelgen, Institute for Islamic Studies, University of Bern Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Umut Halik, School of Resources and Environmental Sciences, Xinjiang University China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
- Research Infrastructure
Prof. Zhou Changcheng, Department of Sociology, Wuhan University China (Asia)
- Research Infrastructure
Jarmila Ptackova, Humboldt University Berlin Germany (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
Prof. Rahile Dawut, Research Centre for Anthropology and Folklore, Xinjiang University China (Asia)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results
- Publication
Swiss Graduate Program in Anthropology Switzerland (Europe)
- in-depth/constructive exchanges on approaches, methods or results

Scientific events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Title of article or contribution Date Place Persons involved
China Studies Seminar Individual talk Han migration to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Between State Schemes and Migrants’ Strategies 10.04.2014 Jackson School of International Studies, University of Washington, Seattle, United States of America Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies Talk given at a conference Totalizing discourses and porous practices: Ethnicity in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 27.03.2014 Philadelphia, United States of America Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Lecture Individual talk Old Town (Hi)stories: Spatial Production and Perception of Kashgar Inner City Districts 04.02.2014 Max Planck Institute for Social Anthropology, Halle, Germany Kobi Madlen;
Institute colloquium Individual talk Go West Young Men: Post-1949 Han migration to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 08.01.2014 Institut für Asien‐ und Afrikawissenschaften, Zentralasien‐Seminar, Humboldt Universität, Berlin, Germany Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
The visible and the invisible: Institutions and identities in contemporary Central Asia Talk given at a conference Performing (Ethnic) Identities in Urban Public Spaces in Southern Xinjiang, China 20.12.2013 University of Zürich, Switzerland Kobi Madlen;
The visible and the invisible: Institutions and identities in contemporary Central Asia Talk given at a conference Expansion of transportation networks in southern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Spatial reconfigurations, mobility and identity 20.12.2013 Zürich University, Switzerland Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Annual Conference of the German Association for Chinese Studies Talk given at a conference The making of state territory from within: Transportation networks in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 08.11.2013 University of Würzburg, Germany Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Spatial transformations in China's Northwest Talk given at a conference Cultural Identities ‘Under Construction‘. Urban Spatial Transformations and the Construction of Identities in Southern Xinjiang 01.11.2013 Bern, Switzerland Kobi Madlen;
Spatial Transformations in China's Northwest Talk given at a conference Roads in Xinjiang: Interfaces of conceived, perceived and lived spaces 31.10.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies Talk given at a conference Two Xinjiangs: Han and Uyghur geographies of the region 21.03.2013 San Diego, United States of America Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Politseminar, Political Geography Unit Individual talk Territoriality from within: Expansion of transportation networks and the making of Xinjiang, northwest China 28.02.2013 Zurich University, Switzerland Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
The State in Asia: Power, Citizenship, the Rule of Law Talk given at a conference State territory in the making: A case study from China’s northwestern borderlands 12.12.2012 Leiden University, Netherlands Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Lunch Seminar of the Laboratoire d’Anthropologie Culturelle et Sociale, University of Lausanne Individual talk Urban Cultural Heritage and Uyghur Identity in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, P. R. China 22.10.2012 Lausanne, Switzerland Kobi Madlen;
Hydrological and Ecological Responses to Climatic Change and to LUCC in Central Asia Talk given at a conference Climate change and adaptations in urban built environment in Xinjiang (China) 06.08.2012 College of Resources and Environmental Sciences of Xinjiang University, Urumqi, China, China Kobi Madlen;
International workshop "Mobility and Identity in Central Asia" Talk given at a conference "The Peacock flies West": Han migration to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and its implications for the Uyghur of the Tarim Basin 25.05.2012 University of Zurich, Switzerland Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Colloquium of the Institute of Social Anthropology Talk given at a conference Transportation networks and Han migration in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Territoriality and spatial delineation strategies 04.04.2012 University of Bern, Switzerland Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Colloquium of the Institute of Social Anthropology Individual talk Mähallä vs. xiaoqu. Urban Transformation, Residential Patterns, and Ethnic Segregation in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (PRC) 04.04.2012 University of Bern, Switzerland Kobi Madlen;
Annual Meeting of the Association of Asian Studies Talk given at a conference Roads and railways in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: Instruments of economic development and spatial delineation 15.03.2012 Toronto, United States of America Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Annual Meeting of the Association for Asian Studies Talk given at a conference From Bazaar to Buxingjie – Characteristics of Chinese Urban Space and its Manifestations in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 15.03.2012 Annual Conference of the Association for Asian Studies (AAS), Toronto, Canada, United States of America Kobi Madlen;
Xinjiang Roundatble Individual talk When country roads become highways: Development of transportation networks and the issuing changes in mobility patterns in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 06.12.2011 Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Xinjiang Roundtable Individual talk Urban renewal in Xinjiang: How economic development and new apartment housees shape urban space use 06.12.2011 Institute of Ethnology and Anthropology, Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, China Kobi Madlen;


Self-organised

Title Date Place
Workshop "Economy, Ecology, and Community Development Projects in China’s Western Borderlands" 09.05.2014 University of Bern, Institute of Social Anthropology, Switzerland
Conference "Spatial Transformations in China’s Northwest" 31.10.2013 University of Bern, Switzerland

Knowledge transfer events

Active participation

Title Type of contribution Date Place Persons involved
Transportation development, mobility patterns and social change in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, China 23.11.2011 Research Center for Anthropology and Folklore, Xinjiang University, China Joniak-Lüthi Agnieszka;
Urban Renewal in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region: How Economic Development and New Apartment Houses Shape Urban Space Use. A Case Study with Examples From Kashgar, Aksu and Kuche 23.11.2011 Research Center for Anthropology and Folklore, Xinjiang University, China Kobi Madlen;


Communication with the public

Communication Title Media Place Year
Talks/events/exhibitions Minderheiten in China German-speaking Switzerland 2013
Talks/events/exhibitions Spaziergang durch ein unbekanntes China, durch Xinjiang German-speaking Switzerland 2013

Associated projects

Number Title Start Funding scheme
126327 Territory in Socialist Central Asia. A Political Geography of Soviet Modernity, 1953-1982. 01.02.2010 Ambizione
158018 Post-1949 Han migration to Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region 01.01.2015 International short research visits
148596 Spatial Transformations in China's Northwestern Borderlands 01.10.2013 International Exploratory Workshops

Abstract

The present project focuses on the issue of territoriality as a spatial strategy to control, affect and influence a portion of land, its natural resources and its population (Sack 1986). Following Lefebvre’s (1991) idea that space is not given as a neutral medium but is produced, territoriality in this study indicates also a process of producing a territory - a space endowed with social meaning, within the confines of state borders. It is highly probable that in multi-ethnic border regions one state territoriality might come across others and compete with them for the upper hand. In order to gain it, states employ a variety of techniques and instruments to delineate their territories and mark the difference to the national ‘other’ on the other side of the state border.The example of Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) on northwestern borders of the People’s Republic of China (PRC) demonstrates explicitly the generative quality of state territory. Bordering eight countries, rich in natural resources and land, Xinjiang is indispensable to the Chinese state also as a corridor for resource-transfer from Central Asia. In order to prevent its secession and disintegration, the Chinese state has invested substantial efforts in strategies of territorial delineation and control in the region. These include, most prominently, the operation of Production and Construction Corps; government-encouraged Han migration into the region; urbanization; the development of a string of border-cities; and the development of transportation network within the region and between the region and the rest of the country. Chinese state territoriality involves as well discursive techniques, e.g. creative historiography, mapping, and territorial and national narratives that objectify Chinese sovereignty over the region. Territorial, national and historical discourses and representations are then being distributed to border populations by state education, local and national mass media, and state and party officials.The present project is composed of two sub-projects which are going to explore two different aspects of Chinese territoriality in Xinjiang:Sub-project A (post-doc) focuses on the construction and modernization of roads as one of the spatial control techniques. New, broad, paved roads and streets facilitate the in-migration of the Han and extraction of region’s resources; they also increase the state’s control of the public space. The responses of the local Han and Uyghur population to the massive changes in the road and street structure constitute the core of this study.Sub-project B (PhD project) deals with another spatial control strategy, namely, the urban development of Xinjiang and changes in the spatial structure of Xinjiang’s cities. As a conse-quence of Han immigration and modernization, spatial structure of Xinjiang’s cities has been changing dramatically in the last two decades. The project will thus focus on urbanization strategies in the region and ethnic co-existence of Han and Uyghurs in urban public spaces.The few publications which deal with strategies of territorial control in Xinjiang are in over-whelming majority descriptive (e.g. Starr 2004, China Quartely 2004). Up to date, no study has been published which would focus on the concept of territoriality, production of space, or re-lations between various spatialities (Soja 1999) in this border area. Furthermore, none of the studies offers a systematic grappling with theories referring to territory, space, state and borders based on research data collected through participant observation and interviews carried out in the region. Finally, the focus on the Xinjiang Han as a diversified category with various motiva-tions and varied reception of state strategies, adds to the novelty of this study. In these various respects, the present project study opens up a new land for scientific exploration.
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