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.

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

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

For more detailed information on the content of individual works in this collection, see the abstracts in the citations preceding each document. See also the collections for Uyghur (AI04), Tajiks (RO02), Pamir Peoples (RO03), Kyrgyz (RP02), and Kazakh (RQ02) for additional information on those specific groups.

Overview by

Leon G. Doyon


Ian Skoggard

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