Indiana University Bloomington
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Politics in Xinjiang



In a scant one hundred twenty years, part or all of the region now known as Xinjiang has been a colony of the Qing empire, a warlord fiefdom, an independent republic, and a province of China. Today it is, like its southern neighbor Tibet, an "autonomous region" in China. As with Tibet, its politics long remained recondite to the outside world. The last two decades have seen an explosion in research on Xinjiang. It is now possible to gain an extensive understanding of the region through works of political science, anthropology, sociology, and history. This course will cover the politics of the region from the late Qing through the present. We will study its changing political regimes, the short-lived independent states founded within Xinjiang, and continuing separatist struggles. The course will focus on politics in Xinjiang since the founding of the People's Republic of China in 1949; topics will include the role of Islam, identity politics, immigration, language battles, cultural resistance, the quasi-military Production and Construction Corps, political economy, and the importance of oil exploitation. We will consider the impact of international factors and historical events such as the Soviet Union's disintegration, Deng Xiaoping's reforms, the NATO intervention in Kosovo, and September 11.

Regions Covered

Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region
Historical Central Eurasia


Department of Central Eurasian Studies