Year of Award


Document Type

Professional Paper - Campus Access Only

Degree Type

Master of Arts (MA)

Degree Name

Anthropology (Cultural Heritage Option)

Department or School/College

Department of Anthropology

Committee Chair

G.G. Weix

Commitee Members

Ardi Kia, Zhen Cao


China, Cultural heritage, Ethnohistory, Kashgar, Uyghur


University of Montana


This paper focuses on perceptions of cultural loss felt by Uyghurs, one of China’s fifty-five officially recognized minority ethnic groups, with respect to the demolition of the old district of the city of Kashgar. Although the western-based media describes the old city as being the heritage of the Uyghur people, through its ethno-historical development, the term ‘Uyghur’ had vastly different meanings (Rudeslson 1997). The historical evolution of the term ‘Uyghur’ shows that the current definition of Uyghur, as formulated by the State in China since the 1950s, differs from past meanings of Uyghur (Gladney 2004), particularly the era when the earliest parts of the old city district were constructed and inhabited. By focusing on the city of Kashgar and tracing the ethno-historical development of the term Uyghur to its current definition as one of China’s fifty-five officially recognized minority peoples, I examine the evolution of the relationship between the State and the people contemporarily known as Uyghurs, to understand better the dynamics which have led to the demolition of the best preserved example of an oasis city on the intercontinental trade route known today as the Silk Road.

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