Collection Description

Culture Name

Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region

Culture Description

The Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is a vast territory in the northwest of China, home to the Muslim Uyghur, one of China’s largest minority groups. The region was incorporated into the Chinese Empire late in the Qing Dynasty. In a largely inhabitable desert and mountainous environment, communities were scattered in oasis settlements along trade routes that connected China to Central Asia and the West. Traditional economy was based on irrigation agriculture, nomadic pastoralism, and trade. Under the People’s Republic of China, the region’s geopolitical importance and abundance of mineral resources including oil has led to rapid development and an influx of Han Chinese.


Select the Culture Summary link above for a longer description of the culture.


Asia --Central Asia



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Collection Overview

Documents referred to in this section are included in eHRAF World Cultures and are referenced by author, date of publication, and title where necessary.

In these overviews of a vast region that is a crossroads of Central Asia, three book-length documents reach back two millennia to the Han Dynasty—and occasionally earlier—to explore the historical roots of twentieth century developments (Cheng 1989, Lattimore 1950, Rahman 2005) although the majority of historical coverage, as in the article by Rackza (1998), begins with consolidation of Chinese control during the Qing Dynasty.

Lattimore (1950) and Norins (1944) concentrate on the geopolitics and economics of the first half of the twentieth century under the Republic of China through World War II; Freeberne (1966) and Rackza (1998) extend the discussion of these topics through second half of the century. A broad historical, geographical and cultural overview from the Han Chinese dominated government perspective is given by Cheng (1989), contrasting with a local Uygur perspective of similar scope provided by Rahman (2005), highlighting socioeconomic inequalities arising in the relations of this peripheral, minority ethnic region to the central state.

For more detailed information on the content of the individual works in this collection see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document.

Overview by

Leon G. Doyon


Ian Skoggard

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