Han Chinese Appropriations of Uyghur Culture

China Studies Research Centre, La Trobe University

Han Chinese Appropriations of Uyghur Culture: Between Then and Now
Chen Yangbin

2:30-4:00pm,  Thursday 27 April 2017
Boardroom (Room 318), Education 2, La Trobe University, Melbourne

In contrast to the apparently unmitigated ethnic tensions between Uyghur and Han in Xinjiang and inland China, the increasing cultural communication between the minorities and the Han is under-studied. This presentation examines Han appropriations of the Uyghur culture from Mao’s era to today. Cultural appropriation is to use something developed in one cultural context by someone who belongs to another culture (James Young 2008). Four noteworthy cases are examined chronologically: songwriter and folksong singer Wang Luobin’s recreations of the Uyghur folksongs;  comedian Chen Peisi’s TV comedy-sketch role playing a Uyghur kebab peddler; pop song singer Luo Lin’s promotion of Uyghur Dolan folk music; and entrepreneur Yang Jian’s successful Xinjiang restaurant business “Yershari” in Shanghai. The preliminary analysis suggests that in comparison with other Chinese ethnic minority cultures Uyghur culture seems most likely to be targeted in the course of cultural appropriation. It will be argued that this kind of cultural appropriation aims to re-essentialize Uyghur culture to sate the appetite of the majority culture’s hunger for culture appreciation and cultural consumption.

Dr Chen Yangbin is a senior lecturer in the Department of Languages and Linguistics, School of Humanities and Social Sciences at La Trobe University. He is the author of Muslim Uyghur Students in a Chinese Boarding School: Social Recapitalisation as a Response to Ethnic Integration (Lexington Books 2008), the co-editor of Multicultural Education in China: Balancing Unity with Diversity (Hong Kong University Press 2014), the editor of volume: Policy Analysis of the Confucius Institute and Globalization of Teaching Chinese as a Foreign Language, in the Routledge journal Chinese Education and Society (Vol. 49, No.6, 2016), as well as the creator and co-developer of Chinese for Advanced Learners: Language, Society and Culture (UNSW Press 2017). He is interested in researching ethnic studies, social and educational development in contemporary China, teaching Chinese as a second language and Chinese sociolinguistics.

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