Development in the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region : spatial transformation and the construction of difference in Western China

Anthony, Ross (2012-03)

CCS discussion papers should contribute to the academic debate on China’s global rise and the consequences thereof for African development. We do therefore explicitly invite scholars from Africa, China, or elsewhere, to use this format for advanced papers that are ready for an initial publication, not least to obtain input from other colleagues in the field. Discussion papers should thus be seen as work in progress, exposed to (and ideally stimulating) policy-relevant discussion based on academic standards. The views expressed in this paper are those of the author.

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The third CCS Discussion Paper for 2012 offers an ethnographic description and analysis of a recent development project in one of the central Uyghur neighbourhoods in the regional capital of Urumqi. In the past two decades, China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has been the recipient of several large-scale development projects which have occurred in conjunction with market-orientated mechanisms introduced to help foster growth. Because such measures have been introduced in conjunction with the large-scale migration of Han Chinese to this traditionally non-Han region, critics have argued that such measures merely assist a process of “internal colonialism”. The territory, occupied primarily by Uyghurs, a Turkic Muslim ethnic group, has a considerable history of resistance to Beijing rule. Thus, the recent economic development of the region has been viewed by scholars, not to mention many Uyghurs, as Beijing’s attempt to consolidate the Chinese presence in the region.

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