Sun, Sand and Submachine Guns: Tourism in a Militarized Xinjiang, China

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Abstract

In recent years, domestic tourism into the Xinjiang region of China has grown rapidly. Government officials view tourism as a source of both economic capital and social stability, presenting a normalcy that makes it attractive for investment. There are two paradoxes to Xinjiang tourism. According to most literature, a massive military presence should deter tourists, but numbers have continued to grow in the militarized Xinjiang region. Second, the cultural “otherness” of Xinjiang is a big draw to the region, yet this culture is being suppressed by state policies to contain Islam. Using a dataset of Han Chinese travel diaries, I look at how narrated tourist experiences of Xinjiang justify policing, how ethnic boundaries are reinforced by practices in both transportation and personal interaction, and how state policies influence Chinese travellers’ views on the authenticity of their experience. While bodily assurances of security substantiate political legitimacy, tourists resist the bureaucratic management of sites, allowing for critiques focused almost exclusively on aesthetic taste.

近年来,进入中国新疆维吾尔自治区的国内旅游者呈现上升的趋势。政府官员将旅游业视为经济资本的一个来源和社会稳定的助力。对他们来说旅游业可能使得该地区显得次序井然,使其对未来的投资具有吸引力。当前新疆旅游行业形势有两个矛盾之处。根据大多数文献,大规模的军事存在应当会使游客踌躇不前,但实际上到访军事化的新疆的人数仍在不断增加。另外,新疆的一大吸引力是该地区的文化“异性”,但这种文化被国家针对伊斯兰的政策所压制。通过研究汉族游客在新疆旅行的网络游记,笔者分析新疆的游客体验如何肯定维持治安的合理性,交通工具和人际交往如何增强民族界限感,以及政府政策如何影响中国旅行者对新疆认识的真实度。尽管确保旅行者的人身安全能够佐证政策的政治合法性,游客还是反对景点景色官僚化的管理。因此大多数游客以审美品味为评价政策的标准。
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1129-1151
Number of pages23
JournalChina Quarterly
Volume248
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021

User-Defined Keywords

  • Xinjiang
  • China
  • Belt and Road Initiative
  • Uyghur nationality
  • tourism
  • 新疆
  • 中国
  • 一带一路
  • 维吾尔族
  • 旅游

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