The Sacred Muslim Geographies of Chinese Central Asia


Manage episode 281512613 series 2798621
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The Uyghurs of the Xinjiang region of China have been the focus of much media attention in the past few years. In this episode, we journey beyond the headlines to explore the religious and cultural history of the Turkic Muslim people who in the modern era came to be called Uyghurs. We’ll pay special attention to their relationship with their homeland by looking at the many places of pilgrimage that, over the course of a millennium, emerged around such oasis towns as Kashgar, Yarkand and Turpan, as well as in remote regions of the Taklamakan desert. These shrines became the focus for Uyghur historical memory through manuscripts in Turki and Persian that linked local people and places to the wider sacred geography of the Muslim world. Through the history of the Uyghurs, both before and since the Qing imperial conquests of the 1750s, we’ll consider the changing ways in which Muslims have identified with the places where they live. Nile Green talks to Rian Thum, author of The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History (Harvard University Press, 2014).