Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. New York: Columbia University Press, Variously glossed as "new province," "new dominion," or even "new frontier," such labels never found favor with its Turkish-speaking Muslim inhabitants nomadic Kazaks in the north, Uighur oasis-dwellers in the south. For them the region was not a new anything since it had its own distinct history that spanned four millennia despite previous periods of direct Chinese rule during the Han and Tang dynasties. But since their political identity was historically set by local oasis origin or tribal nomadic confederation, only in the early twentieth century did ethnic nationalists see the need to create their own overarching designation, "East Turkestan. It has been known to deny visas to foreign scholars who use terminology of which they disapprove, and internal ethnic nationalists face far worse consequences.

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Morgan Liu reviews the book for H-Asia, October January 1, Print James Millward. Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. New York Columbia University Press, ISBN This magnificent survey history of an important heartland in the region adds a greatly needed volume to this sparse literature.

Covering the complex politics, economies, ecologies, demographies, cultures, languages, ideas, and religions of the territory now called Xinjiang in northwest China from the earliest archaeological record to with half of the book on the twentieth century , this work is engagingly written for a wide range of scholars, students, policy makers, and general readers. This is the land that has interacted with Chinese, Russian, Mongol, Arab, Turkic, and Tibetan empires; it sat astride trade route networks that ultimately connected Europe, Persia, India, Russia, and China commonly but misleadingly called "The Silk Road.

He identifies several overarching themes spanning his millennium-and-half survey, to which he returns explicitly throughout the text. On the last point, the author is explicitly writing against recent Uyghur separatist historiographies that define the region as intrinsically Uyghur since ancient times, and equally against PRC histories that narrate Xinjiang as always Chinese.

Rather, he carefully builds a nuanced account of the shifting meanings of identifying labels to the extent possible given available sources , correcting anachronisms, especially of projecting modern specifically Stalinist notions of ethnicity or nationality onto premodern peoples and polities.

Another overarching theme is the significance of physical geography and ecology, particularly regarding water access, on the society and politics of the region. 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. In the later chapters on the twentieth century, likewise, he helpfully recaps relevant material covered previously to provide historical depth to a subject.

The book has a straight-forward chronological organization. The first three chapters cover the earliest times to the nineteenth century. 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.

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. 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.

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.

His last chapter also makes effective use of his own experiences and apt photographs taken by himself in mini-ethnographic vignettes. This is a masterful and insightful piece of integrative scholarship, unique in the literature in its scope and execution, and a pleasure to read. Note [1].


Eurasian Crossroads : A History of Xinjiang

Morgan Liu reviews the book for H-Asia, October January 1, Print James Millward. Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang. New York Columbia University Press, ISBN This magnificent survey history of an important heartland in the region adds a greatly needed volume to this sparse literature.


Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang

Start your review of Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang Write a review Shelves: xinjiang A history of Xinjiang and ergo the study thereof is fraught with many difficulties particularly relating to pre The first difficulty is the nomenclature. As a "cross road" as the title implies we have to deal with so many different names for the same thing. We are dealing with Chinese, Turkic, Russian, English and several other languages.

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