Trilingualism and Uyghur Identity in the People's Republic of China
Language and Identity : Discourse in the World
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... full DRO policy for further details. Abstract There are 55 officially recognised ethnic minority groups in the People's Republic of China. One such group, the Uyghurs, is made up of Turkic people living in North West of the country, predominantly in the province of Xinjiang. Historically, this group has never been strongly assimilated into the majority Han culture; indeed, the political, economic and social policies of the central and regional governments have engendered tensions-at times violent-between the Uyghurs and the Han in Xinjiang, as some Uyghurs have perceived the policies as threatening the integrity of their culture and language. However, to characterise the relationship between Uyghurs and Han as uniformly and mutually hostile would be a misrepresentation of a far more nuanced reality. This chapter (co-authored by a Uyghur, a Han Chinese and an Englishman) explores the complexities and tensions surrounding language and Uyghur identity. Language issues are particularly sensitive and, as a result, instructive of the broader attitudes and practices relating to identity. The Uyghur language forms an essential part of ethnic identity, while Chinese-which is promoted for national unity-offers opportunities for educational, economic and social advancement. English provides international connectivities that enhance and complexify notions of identity. The 2 chapter explores language in education policies in Xinjiang to reveal official attitudes and practices, and the attitudes and practices of Uyghurs regarding their self-identity.