Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang

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Millward has a knack for insightfully capturing entire trends in concrete phenomena; for example, he shows how multiple changes in writing systems for the Uyghur language under the People's Republic of China PRC can be seen as indexing the tempo of socio-political changes and Sino-Soviet relations experienced by Uyghurs after pp.

As an historian working at Georgetown University, he is aware of the historical constitution of the present, without being presentist. In the earlier chapters covering earlier time periods, he occasionally injects a comment on how the given subject matter sheds light on how and when a current state of affairs came to be. The Chinese Qing dynasty built its fortified administration centers away from old Muslim towns, for example, which explains the city plan of Kashgar today p.

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In the later chapters on the twentieth century, likewise, he helpfully recaps relevant material covered previously to provide historical depth to a subject. In understanding why the Chinese government harbored suspicions regarding Western concern about Uyghur separatism during the s, for example, Millward suggests that incidents like the CIA's past hand in instigating Kazaks to armed resistance against the Chinese Communist takeover in may have contributed p.

The book has a straight-forward chronological organization. The first three chapters cover the earliest times to the nineteenth century. The nineth-sixteenth centuries witnessed a rapid succession of nomadic ruling powers based outside and within Xinjiang, most notably the empire of Chinggis Khan and his troubled successors from the thirteenth century onward, that left the region's population speaking Turko-Mongolian languages more than before.

The conversion of the Qarakhanids to Islam at the end of the tenth century marked the first Turkic dynasty in the Islamic world, which later led to the region's sedentary and nomadic populations becoming almost entirely Muslim. James A. Millward - Asia / History: Books

The Qarakhanids are the subject of scholarly dispute today because they pose problems for both Uyghur nationalists and PRC official histories. Modern Uyghurs get their religion from the Qarakhanids, their name from the nomadic khaghanate which espoused Manichaeanism and opposed Islam, and their genetic constitution from Turko-Mongol and Persianate hybridizations, so that "one cannot construct a neat unilinear narrative of Uyghur history" p. The same applies to Soviet Central Asian nationalities, though one would never suspect this from reading most of the existing literature about the Soviet side, and the example of Millward's book cries out for sound and accessible scholarship treating Uzbeks, Tajiks, Kazakhs, etc.

A perennial question regarding China's relation to this region, starting from the midth century when the Qing ended centuries of indirect influence by conquering Xinjiang outright, is why Beijing should invest in and settle this borderland. After various Chinese governors in the early twentieth century tacked between allowing more local autonomy and tolerating Turkic Muslim culture on one hand, and forcing central rule and assimilation to Han Chinese culture on the other--always in the shadow of Russian or Soviet economic and intellectual influences from next door--the PRC finally embarked by the s on a massive command-driven economic development effort for the region, ironically when market liberalization has had such great success elsewhere in China.

Millward concludes with a picture of Xinjiang more securely a part of China than ever, especially with the end of rival Soviet meddling, yet also more globally connected than ever, with international media awareness of internet-mediated Uyghur dissent and its supposed significance in the post-September 11 "global war on terror.

A History of Xinjiang

Perhaps a reader is left with a desire for more historical or other modes of analysis in this book, because Millward opens up so many intriguing issues in his exposition that he does not thrash out thoroughly. Given the survey genre and vast material he has to cover, however, he actually does choose occasions to pause and consider possible explanations or connections, achieving a balance of depth and forward propulsion in his narrative.

Book Launch: Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang

As a China specialist, his primary sources are mostly in Chinese with some in Turkic languages; his extensive secondary source bibliography, mostly in English, spans many academic disciplines. I recommend it strongly. Choice A masterful and insightful piece of integrative scholarship, unique in the literature in its scope and execution, and a pleasure to read.

Morgan Liu, H-Soyuz Millward's book fills an important gap in the growing literature on Xingjiang, and it will be indispensable to students.

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He specializes in the history of China and Central Eurasia, including Xinjiang. He lives in Washington, D. Walmart Tell us if something is incorrect. Book Format: Choose an option. Add to Cart.

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Book Launch: Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang

It was also the point at which the Chinese, Turkic, Tibetan, and Mongolian empires communicated and struggled with one another. Besides separatist concerns, Xinjiang's energy resources, strategic position, and rapid development have gained it international attention in recent decades. Drawing on primary sources in several Asian and European languages, James Millward presents a thorough study of Xinjiang's history and people from antiquity to the present and takes a balanced look at the position of Turkic Muslims within the PRC today.

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While offering fresh material and perspectives for specialists, this engaging survey of Xinjiang's rich environmental, cultural, and ethno-political heritage is also written for travelers, students, and anyone eager to learn about this vital connector between East and West. Specifications Publisher Columbia University Press. Customer Reviews. Write a review. See any care plans, options and policies that may be associated with this product. admin