Reconfiguring Uyghurness in multilingualism: An internal migration perspective

Xiaoyan Grace GUO, Ming Yue Michelle GU

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlespeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)


This qualitative inquiry investigates how the experiences of learning and using multiple languages influenced the transformation of self-perceived ethnic identities in a group of tertiary-level Uyghur minority students in the context of internal migration in China. Data analysis showed that the majority of Uyghur participants developed a greater affinity with and attachment to their ethnic group by emphasizing the language differences between Uyghur and the dominant Han in intercultural encountering. However, they gradually probed into the meaning of “being Uyghur” in the receiving community. Participants following mother tongue and Chinese educational paradigms were found to offer contrastive answers to the question “what should be the distinguishing features of being Uyghur?”. It was further found that learning English as a third language enabled participants to develop a positive personal ethnic identity by enhancing their understanding of ethnicity and its associations with its constituent elements. We conclude with suggestions for relevant stakeholders. Copyright © 2017 Informa UK Limited, trading as Taylor & Francis Group.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2028-2047
JournalEthnic and Racial Studies
Issue number11
Early online dateJul 2017
Publication statusPublished - 2018


Guo, X. G., & Gu, M. M. (2018). Reconfiguring Uyghurness in multilingualism: An internal migration perspective. Ethnic and Racial Studies, 41(11), 2028-2047. doi: 10.1080/01419870.2017.1343485


  • Ethnic identity
  • Multilingualism
  • Internal migration
  • Uyghur
  • Minority students
  • China


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