Differences and Similarities Among and Between the Uygur Minority Nationality Denizens of Beijing and Xinjiang, China.

TitleDifferences and Similarities Among and Between the Uygur Minority Nationality Denizens of Beijing and Xinjiang, China.
Publication TypeThesis
Year of Publication1999
AuthorsFarrahi, Shireen M.
Academic DepartmentAnthropology
Thesis AdvisorYoung, John A.
DegreeBachelor of Arts in International Studies in Anthropology
Number of Pages44
Date Published02/1999
UniversityOregon State University
Thesis TypeUndergraduate
KeywordsChina, compare, diet, traditional culture

The goals of this project were to document and investigate the fundamental differences and
similarities between two groups of the Uygur minority nationality, residing in their native land of
Xinjiang and in Beijing, China. Primary research methods used were participant observation,
informal interviews, photography, and consultation of literary sources. Main differences found
between Xinjiang and Beijing groups were varying skill levels of Mandarin and Uygur language
and the tendency of Beijing Uygurs to embrace Han and Western culture. The Beijing
government strongly regulates the celebration of Uygur festivals, thereby squelching native
enthusiasm. Main similarities found were the preference and consumption of a diet based on
mutton, access to restaurants that catered towards Muslim dietary restrictions, and the availability
of goods for conspicuous consumption. Both groups share feelings of camaraderie, steady
interaction, and the strong effort to maintain traditional Uygur culture and Islamic influence.
Through my research, I learned about the importance of identifying potential barriers to research
and working around them, whether they be cultural or political. I also discovered that it is
equally important to find and assess one's own personal boundaries as an outsider doing research
in a politically-sensitive area before setting out to conduct the study. I conclude that the
Uygur minority nationality of China will need to actively preserve its native traditions in light of
the national government's policies of minority assimilation into the greater Han culture.