Against the background of the Urumchi riots (July 2009), this book provides a longitudinal study of contemporary Uyghur identities and Uyghur-Han relations. Previous studies considered China's Uyghurs from the perspective of the majority Han (state or people). Conversely, The Art of Symbolic Resistance considers Uyghur identities from a local perspective, based on interviews conducted with group members over nearly twenty years. Smith Finley rejects assertions that the Uyghur ethnic group is a 'creation of the Chinese state', suggesting that contemporary Uyghur identities involve a complex interplay between long-standing intra-group socio-cultural commonalities and a more recently evolved sense of common enmity towards the Han. This book advances the discipline in three senses: from a focus on sporadic violent opposition to one on everyday symbolic resistance; from state to 'local' representations; and from a conceptualisation of Uyghurs as 'victim' to one of 'creative agent'.
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Joanne Smith Finley, Ph.D (Leeds University, 1999) is Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University, UK. She previously co-authored an edited volume titled Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia (Ashgate, 2007), and has published a wide range of articles and book chapters on the formation, transformation, hybridisation and globalisation of Uyghur identities in Xinjiang, Northwest China.
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