The Uyghur Community in Turkey: nostalgic Pan-Turkism, ethno-nationalism and political adjustments
thesisposted on 28.03.2022, 14:30 authored by Tomas Wilkoszewski
This thesis explores the post-1949 Uyghur emigration from Xinjiang and the formation of the Uyghur community living in Turkey today. Based on multi-sited fieldwork in Turkey and Germany I focus on the gradual transmation and diversification of the community from the1950s up to the present day. I examine this multifaceted migration, its narration, and the changing political discourses and practices in Turkey against the background of the migrants' personal experiences. I focus on Uyghur agency in shaping diaspora identity based on their life stories in order to understand how the traumatic events they recall are transmitted to younger generations and shaped by subsequent experiences in Turkey. The emphasis on suffering ascribed by leading figures ofthe first generation in accordance to the political expectations of Turkey has been criticised by second and third generation Uyghurs. I will explore debates within the community on Uyghur collectiveness around concepts of Pan-Turkism, ethno-nationalism, victimhood, suffering and survivor's guilt. In the heart of the lives of individuals and at the centre of political debates of organizations lies the East Turkistan Cause. But within the last decades contesting visions have emerged with shifting political aspirations. The disillusionment of pan-Turkic groups after the disintegration of the Soviet Union, and developing Turkish-Sino relations led to an Uyghur ethno-nationalism that, to the displeasure of certain groups, renders pan-Turkic ideas obsolete and creates discursive fault lines within the community. The transnational Uyghur political struggle, with its origin in Turkey, is evolving with these political changes. New debates on future strategies to promote the East Turkistan Cause are gaining momentum with influential groups being outside Turkey now. Within these developments I show how Turkey's role in the East Turkistan Cause has changed and how new perceptions within the community led to political adjustments in everyday life as well as in debates within the exile Uyghur organizations.