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Down a Narrow Road: Identity and Masculinity in a Uyghur Community in Xinjiang China

Down a Narrow Road: Identity and Masculinity in a Uyghur Community in Xinjiang China

by Jay DautcherJay Dautcher


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The Uyghurs, a Turkic group, account for half the population of the Xinjiang region in northwestern China. This ethnography presents a thick description of life in the Uyghur suburbs of Yining, a city near the border with Kazakhstan, and situates that account in a broader examination of Uyghur culture. Its four sections explore topics ranging from family life to market trading, from informal socializing to forms of religious devotion. Uniting these topics are an emphasis on the role folklore and personal narrative play in helping individuals situate themselves in and create communities and social groups, and a focus on how men’s concerns to advance themselves in an agonistic world of status competition shape social life in Uyghur communities.

The narrative is framed around the terms identity, community, and masculinity. As the author shows, Yining’s Uyghurs express a set of individual and collective identities organized around place, gender, family relations, friendships, occupation, and religious practice. In virtually every aspect of their daily lives, individuals and families are drawn into dense and overlapping networks of social relationships, united by a shared engagement with the place of men’s status competition within daily life in the community.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780674032828
Publisher: Harvard
Publication date: 03/31/2009
Series: Harvard East Asian Monographs , #312
Edition description: New Edition
Pages: 350
Product dimensions: 6.10(w) x 9.30(h) x 1.20(d)

About the Author

Jay Dautcher is an independent scholar living in Santa Cruz, California.

Table of Contents

  • Foreword
    Stevan Harrell
  • Characters
  • A Note on Language
  • Maps
  • Introduction

  • Part I: Local Identities of Space and Place
  1. The Blessed Home: Residence and Identity in a Uyghur Neighborhood
  2. Yining's Mehelle as Suburban Periphery
  3. Desettling the Land: The Destruction of Uyghur Chthonic Identity

    Part II: Gender and the Life Cycle
  1. Gleaming Eyes, Evil Eyes: Cradle and Cure in Uyghur Child Rearing
  2. At Play in the Mehelle: The Language and Lore of Uyghur Childhood
  3. Marriage, Mistresses, and Masculinity: Gender and Adult Social Life
  4. The Pretty Olturash: Masculinity and Moral Order in Adult Play
  5. “Women have hair, men have nicknames”: Uyghur Nicknaming Practices

    Part III: Markets and Merchants on the Silk Road
  1. Merchants and Markets in teh Mehelle
  2. Yining's Border Trade: Trader-Tourism and Uyghur Sojourning

    Part IV: Islam in the Mehelle: The Social Dimensions of Uyghur Religious Practice
  1. The False Hajim and the Bad Meshrep: Piety and Politics in Uyghur Islam
  2. The Hungry Guest: Rhetoric, Reverence, and Reversal in a Uyghur Ramadan

  • Epilogue
  • Glossary
  • Notes
  • Works Cited
  • Index

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