All posts filed under: Children

Uyghur Kids And Their “Dream From The Heart”

PPTV version of the above video here for those without access to YouTube. A recent Uyghur-language short film called “Dream From the Heart” (English and Chinese subtitles) tells the story of a group of boys from Qaraqash, a county of more than half a million people in Southern Xinjiang. Shot as part of China Southern Airlines’s new ad campaign by the award-winning director Zhang Rongji (张荣吉), the film references the true stories of how self-taught and underfunded young people from the deep poverty of Hotan and Kashgar prefectures struggle to compete with more privileged opponents. So many teams of young confident athletes, musicians, speech competitors, and scientists in Southern Xinjiang practice all of their lives to reach the big stage in the city, only to find themselves blocked by the logistics of getting across the country or traveling across the globe. Many times they don’t have the equipment, the coaching, worldly knowledge, or the political support of people in the cities – all they have is a will to succeed and the toughness that comes from …

The Blind Voice of the New Silk Road

Perhatjan performing in the second segment of the Voice of the Silk Road  This week was the screening of the seventh segment of the first round of The Voice of the Silk Road – a show that hundreds of thousands of Uyghurs watch every Friday night at 8 pm local time on Xinjiang TV Channel 9. People like the contest because they can watch their favorite performers joke around with each other; they can see people they know perform or imagine themselves performing in their place. Uyghurs see themselves trying on a performance mode popularized by mainstream English and Chinese-language versions of the show, but instead of English or Chinese pop ballads and American and (largely) Han stories of unrecognized talent, on this show they see the reverse. They largely see Uyghur folk songs, classical muqam and pop music; and they mostly hear Uyghur stories of personal triumph. The Voice of the Silk Road is a celebration of an amateur love for Uyghur music. The contestants sing because they love to sing; they sing because they …

So You Think Uyghurs Can Dance?

With the so much attention being paid to violence emanating from Xinjiang, many of you may have missed the parade of Uyghur dancers who have taken the stage on the Chinese version of “So You Think You Can Dance” (Zhongguo Hao Wudao). Not only do we have the child star turned adult tap-dancer Yusupjan, the nine-year old break-dancer Surat Taxpolat who goes by the stagename “Little Meatball”, and the teenage break dancer Umid Tursun but we also have the model family of Gulmira Memet a young dance instructor from the Xinjiang Art Institute in Ürümchi. As in other reality TV shows featuring minority performers – such as the Kazakh performer Tasken on The Voice of China – celebrity judges use the competition stage as platform from which to model minor-to-minor connections and demonstrate the way the diversity of the Chinese population can be seen as an asset rather than a sign of lack. Jin Xing said “I hope we can create a relationship of grand ethnic solidarity” It is perhaps with this in mind that …

The Dreams of Uyghur Kids and the Film On A Tightrope

As the coils of economic development have tightened around the cities of Southern Xinjiang over the past dozen years, many Uyghur parents have increasingly found themselves without land, jobs and stable futures. In many cases the strain of existential insecurity is most sharply expressed in the lives of children. Kids who grow up in extreme poverty, speaking a minor language, are often left to fend for themselves as one or more of their parents leave to find odd and rare jobs in the city. If they are lucky these kids will stay with grandparents or uncles, but in some cases particularly if a father dies or disappears these children end up in orphanages or, per a dominant stereotype regarding Uyghur children born in the “balinghou” generation, they will be forced to join gangs of roving pickpockets. Trinh Min Ha once wrote that a stereotype is an “arrested representation of a changing reality,” that is, they are stories which have an element of truth but don’t necessarily neatly match the lived experience of those they address. …