Henryk Szadziewski: Kashgar’s Old City: the Politics of Demolition

An article on Open Democracy looks at the destruction of traditional Uighur areas of Kashgar:

Kashgar has a long and layered past. It is a city with a history stretching over 2,000 years. Its location – in a fertile oasis to the north of the Pamir mountains and on the western edge of the Taklamakan desert – has put it at the centre of traffic heading west to central Asia and eventually to Europe, east to China and south to the sub-continent. As a crossroads between civilisations (sometimes the travel-writers’ clichés are true), Kashgar was one of the major trading centres of the Silk Road; in his Travels, Marco Polo recorded a visit here in the 1270s.

Throughout its history, Kashgar has hosted a mix of peoples, religions and languages, among which the Uighurs have been for centuries at the centre, giving this city its character and flavour. The Uighurs are a Turkic Muslim people, who consider Kashgar’s old city as one of the cradles of their culture and the physical embodiment of an illustrious history. Today, however, in a story that has largely fallen under the radar of the international media, the old city is being demolished by the ruling Chinese government. This demolition brings with it some fundamental, opposed ideas that relate directly and personally to the many people affected: tradition vs modernity, conservation vs construction, assimilation vs resistance.

See also a related article from the Washington Post via CDT.

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