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Title: Consuming identities : the culture and politics of food among the Uyghur in contemporary Xinjiang
Author: Cesàro, Maria Cristina
ISNI:       0000 0001 3525 7031
Awarding Body: University of Kent at Canterbury
Current Institution: University of Kent
Date of Award: 2002
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This research is a study of food and identity among the Uyghur, a Turkic-speaking Muslim people who live in the north-western region of Xinjiang (Chinese Central Asia) and are today one of the largest minorities in the People's Republic of China. It is based on fieldwork carried out from May 1996 to September 1997 among Uyghur urban intellectuals in Urilmchi, the provincial capital of Xinjiang. The underlying argument is that food, in all its related practices, is a powerful form of identity creation and maintenance. Through the preparation, the exchange, and the consumption of food social relationships are created, rules of inclusion and exclusion are established, boundaries are negotiated and maintained. In a context of volatile relations between the Uyghur Muslim minority and the dominant Han Chinese population, food represents a fundamental resource available to Uyghur intellectuals, who find themselves at the vanguard of both assimilation and differentiation and are currently engaged in a difficult process of negotiation and affirmation of their distinctive identity. In this context, food becomes a privileged arena for negotiation, providing an excellent vantage point to explore the dynamic and complex nature of social and cultural interaction in contemporary Xinjiang. In particular, the same tension between differentiation and assimilation is at work in the realm of food. If, on the one hand, a narrative of continuity, tradition, and discrete identities can be detected in the way Uyghurs talk and write about their food, on the other hand practices as well as discourses also show the syncretic nature of a culinary tradition.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: GN Anthropology ; GR Folklore ; JA Political science (General) ; HM Sociology