How Linguistics and Ethnic Fragmentation Have Affected The Han Chinese Sense of Belonging In the Xinjiang Province

Linguistic anthropology is the study of humans and their communication. Much of the time languages and dialect can determine whether someone is local or not. In the Chinese province of Xinjiang, ones language and ethnicity has much more of an impact on ones feeling of being local because of ethnic fragmentation in the area. In this area there are two main ethnic groups, the Turkic Uyghur and the Han Chinese. Both these ethnicities speak completely different languages. The Han Chinese speak Mandarin, but the Turkic Uyghur speak “a guttural Turkic-Altaic language with an Arabic-based script.” The Turkic Uyghur are the largest ethnic group in the province and they are also the ones who have been occupying the territory for the longest. 114292The Xinjiang province has been found to be rich in oil preserves so Han Chinese have been migrating to the area for hopes of a better life. This and other factors have caused tensions between the two groups. Sophia Slavich visited the Xinjiang province and asked her cab driver, a man of Han decent but born in Xinjiang, “if he is both a local and a person from Xinjiang. Pause. It appears that these two notions of belonging are in conflict with one another.” The Han population does not associate themselves as being from Xinjiang because of the ethnic fragmentation in the area. Also, when traveling China the notion of being Turkic Uyghur and being from Xinjiang are directly associated. Therefore, the Han living within the province have mixed feelings of being local and belonging in the Xinjiang province.