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Multilingualism, Language Policy and Negotiation of Uyghur Identity

SUNUODULA, MAMTIMYN (2016) Multilingualism, Language Policy and Negotiation of Uyghur Identity. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.

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This research investigates the dynamics of interaction between multilingual ideologies and practices of the Uyghurs and China’s language policies pertaining to Uyghur, Mandarin Chinese and English languages, situating it within the social and historical contexts of Xinjiang. Focus of the research is on the predicament of Uyghurs as social agents as they engage in linguistic practices in a rapidly changing linguistic landscape. Primary objectives of the research are to uncover the ways in which: a) the language ideologies and practices of the Uyghurs are discursively shaped; b) the dynamic interaction between the state language policies and the Uyghur language ideologies and practices; c) the effect that language has on the social relations of symbolic and material power in the wider society. The research adopts a mixed methods approach, integrating ethnographic qualitative case studies with online ethnography, documentary analysis and quantitative questionnaire research, in order to gain a more balanced view. The qualitative data is analysed using the poststructuralist theoretical framework of language, identity and power, drawing on the works of Pierre Bourdieu, Judith Butler and Michel Foucault, as well as poststructuralist theories of second language learning and identity. The analysis of qualitative data is supported by quantitative analysis of the questionnaire data. The research concludes that Uyghur language ideology and practices are socially and historically embedded and discursively constructed in social interaction and shape the ways in which Uyghurs experience and make sense of the world. The changes in state language policies in recent years promoting Mandarin Chinese oracy and literacy among the Uyghurs have negatively impacted on the symbolic and material value of Uyghur language in public domain and widened the imbalance of power. Meanwhile, the promotion of English and rise of its material and symbolic value in Chinese society has made strong impact on the Uyghur youth and provided them with an opportunity to shift the balance of symbolic relations of power in their favour.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Faculty and Department:Faculty of Social Sciences and Health > Government and International Affairs, School of
Thesis Date:2016
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:03 May 2016 15:26

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