Ex Libris Kirkland

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First Written 2015
Genre Nonfiction
Origin China
Publisher New World Press
ISBN-10 7510444330
ISBN-13 978-7510444333
My Copy library paperback
First Read July 01, 2017

I am from Xinjiang on the Silk Road

I wanted to learn more about Xinjiang province; it's an interesting topic in China current affairs, and one of my favorite books from the 20th century takes place there. It's a remote province, full of desert but sparsely populated, with muslim turkic people groups like the Uyghurs. But today, the remote western region of China is being aggressively ... infiltrated? colonized? integrated? harmonized? assimilated? suppressed? by the Chinese government and majority Han culture. There's a concerted campaign on the ground to raise the standard of living, but also to assimilate cultures, including settling ethnically Han Chinese into the area, luring young people to the East with scholarships, sending in greater military forces, and using the 'war on terror' as an excuse to suppress muslim practices. It's apparently a hearts-and-minds and guns-and-laws campaign.

This book on the face of it looks like a slice of life portrait of the people of Xinjiang: there are large portrait photos, paired with 2-3 page first-person essays about that person's life. But it doesn't take a close read to see that this only presents people who have successfully integrated with the larger Chinese society; people who run businesses back East, or studied in Beijing, or made it big in some other area. There's a lot of talk about Xinjiang's harmony, and a notable absence of muslim women. I obviously don't know much about life on the ground there, but it seems like this book obviously went thru some major censorship, or was decidedly coopted.

But all the same: fascinating! Fascinating to read about the life history of people in a remote place, no matter how refracted their stories are.

Noted on July 14, 2017

Ex Libris Kirkland is a super-self-absorbed reading journal made by Matt Kirkland. Copyright © 2001 - .
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