The ethnic as ethic: education choices amongst the Uyghur of Xinjiang

McMurray, James (2017) The ethnic as ethic: education choices amongst the Uyghur of Xinjiang. Doctoral thesis (PhD), University of Sussex.

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Abstract

This thesis is about education in Xinjiang, the choices available to students and parents, and the factors taken into account when making these choices. The subject of language tuition and use has increasingly assumed a central position in the resentment felt by much of the Uyghur population of Xinjiang towards the Chinese government and the Han population. The long-term, policy-driven increase in the use of Mandarin in schools in Xinjiang has accelerated in the last decade as those which have previously used the Uyghur language for the majority of teaching have steadily been converted into bilingual institutions. This change has significantly reduced the linguistic options for Uyghur parents, as ‘bilingual’ schools are substantively similar to Chinese-language schools. Mandarin, as the primary language of government and trade in China, is widely recognised by Uyghur parents and students as essential to career success in contemporary Xinjiang and the Uyghur language is not existentially threatened. Nonetheless, this change is lamented by many, even those who chose bilingual or Chinese-language education for their own children.
This ethnographic work, largely set in the regional capital of Urumqi, explores the disparity between materially self-interested choices and this sentiment. Contextualising the subject of education against the background of the Uyghur people’s general interaction with the Chinese people and state, the thesis contends that there is a communally-maintained avoidance of all influences perceived to be Chinese, and that this avoidance is best understood in ethical terms. Utilising the work of Alasdair Macintyre (1981), it argues that the maintenance of difference from the Han, in the context of a narrative understanding of history which represents all Chinese influence as destructive or dangerous, has come to be understood amongst the Uyghur as virtuous in itself. With evidence drawn from 18 months of fieldwork in Xinjiang and interviews with parents, students and educators, it examines how attempts to maintain this virtue play out against other values and concerns in the choices they make about schooling.

Item Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Schools and Departments: School of Global Studies > Anthropology
Subjects: D History General and Old World > DS History of Asia > DS701 China > DS730 Ethnography. General works > DS731 Individual elements in the population, A-Z > DS731.U4 Uighur (Turkic people)
L Education > LG Individual institutions (Asia. Africa. Oceania) > LG021 Asia > LG051 China
Depositing User: Library Cataloguing
Date Deposited: 15 Jun 2017 11:46
Last Modified: 06 Sep 2018 08:41
URI: http://sro.sussex.ac.uk/id/eprint/68637

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