Identity of Kazakhstan’s Uyghurs: Migration, Homeland, and Language

In: Central Asian Affairs
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  • 1 Professor, Turan University, Almaty, Kazakhstan
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This article examines the ethno-national identity of Uyghurs in Kazakhstan, which, during the period of independence, has been undergoing a complex process of transformation from ‘Sovietness’ to ‘Kazakhstanness.’ This transformation is shaped by the ethnic policy of Kazakhstan, aiming for the consolidation of society and formation of a united Kazakhstani nation. Post-Soviet development not only produces threats to the Uyghur ethnic identity, but also creates new perspectives for it. The article focuses on some dimensions of the Uyghur identity determined by cross-border migration from the Xinjiang-Uyghur autonomous region of the neighboring People’s Republic of China and Soviet national policy, such as language, cultural institutions, and existence of the Uyghur district in the Almaty province. Analysis of the discourse of vätän (motherland) shows a shift to a perception of Kazakhstan as a homeland.

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