Reviews

The author offers a socio-political analysis of the pop music taste among Uighur urban youth of Xinjiang. Based on a comparison between the developments of two singers chosen from two different political generations, N. Baranovitch demonstrates that the implication of Uighur students in resistance ethnic movements towards Han Chinese domination has decreased after the repression of the mid-1990s, and changed towards the assumption of ethnicity through integration. Focusing, through the analysis of songs, on the image given by two Uighur pop-stars (Askar or “Grey Wolf”, a political dissident who calls to resistance and autonomy, and Arken, a young fashionable non-political singer who gives a “nice” representation of Xinjiang, celebrating integration of “Uighurness” within Han Chinese society), the author stands that the decreasing popularity of the former and the increasing success of the latter reveal the new “mentality” of the Uighur youth. He provides detailed description of each singer’ life story and analyses their contradictory relation to their common ethnic background. The content of this relation is linked with sociological enquiries implemented by the author on several Uighur campuses, the results of which suggest that young people recently choose a path towards integration into Han Chinese society, in order to prove that Uighurs have the same potentials, instead of staying desperately stuck in old ethnical claims. N. Baranovitch also emphasises the diverse kinds of pressure exerted by the Chinese state: an admixture of censorship and rewards for singers who conform to the official line. In a long conclusion, the author relocates this changing attitudes process in the context of China’s political history since the 1980s, stating that Chinese politics (any resistance movement being followed by harsh repression, then by efforts for economical and social integration) seems to work, since it has let ethnic claims with no alternative but integration. Although he excessively tends to extend his results on the student youth to the whole Uighur society, N. Baranovitch provides a well-documented analysis of the ethnical representations carried by rock and pop-music, their impact on the youth, and their usefulness in the study of socio-political issues.

Ariane Zevaco, School of Advanced Studies in Social Sciences, Paris
CER: II-6.5-553