All posts tagged: Berna

A Uyghur Chinese New Year

The Uyghur language Spring Festival song and dance spectacular “New Xinjiang, New Melody” is back! After a five year absence following the disasters of the Year of the Ox, the Xinjiang Ministry of Culture in association the Bureau of Public Relations has welcomed in the Year of the Horse with a line-up of all the usual Uyghur superstars. Headlined by Abdulla (53:25) and supported by Möminjan (51:45), Six City (42:32), Ablajan (22:59), Berna (15:55) and a host of others, the event was intended to introduce a “brand-new Xinjiang style” to the nation. The multicultural event even featured a Han singer Wang Jian (39:19) singing a famous song from Kumul in Uyghur and the write up for the concert boasts of Hui, Kazakh, Kirgiz and Mongol involvement in the performances. Perhaps the most moving moment came with the great Ekber Qehrimin singing “Oasis Poplar” (Tёrek Bostan) (26:37)  – a heartbreaking classic from the golden age of the 1980s. Here’s to a year in Xinjiang where moments of happiness like these come often.

Gendered Futures, “Mother Tongue,” and Berna the Uyghur city girl

(Part 2 of 2)   I have written previously about the way endearing child stars such as the seven-year old Berna are being mobilized as a method of securing the future of Uyghur ways of knowing and speaking. Yet Uyghur “mother tongue fever” has a long legacy. The famous Uyghur poem Ana Til or “Mother Tongue” was composed by the poet Haji Qutluq Shewqi in the mid-nineteenth century when a love of Uyghur was directed in opposition to the dominance of Persian and Arabic in Uyghur education. While the vectors of linguistic force have found new centers of gravity in the past few decades, the sentiment carried forward by that old poem resonates more strongly than ever in Uyghur popular culture. Yet as I will explain below despite the continuity of these feelings, there are also some important differences from these desires of the past. Despite, and because of, their almost bizarre appeal, young performers like Berna and her promoters are challenging staid masculine notions of what it means to be Uyghur and what the …

Children’s Music, Uyghur Memories and Berna a seven-year-old pop star from Ürümchi

 (Part 1 of 2) As has been well documented in discussions of the cultural situation in Xinjiang, many minority people in Xinjiang feel the future of their language and culture is insecure. Efforts to replace Uyghur-medium education begun in 2004 have intensified as the capillary spread of Chinese capitalism embeds its network and ideology deeper and deeper into southern Xinjiang. Although the first site of conflict was urban Uyghur schools, the extension of the railroad to Hotan has brought with it the “leap-frog development” of brand-new schools staffed by Mandarin-speaking teachers; in some cases the signs which accompany this “opening up of the West” were written in Chinese rather than the legally-required Uyghur script of the Uyghur Autonomous Region. These schools are popping up in the desert towns of Southern Xinjiang as tokens of the “sister-city” relationships established around conference tables in Ürümchi following the trauma of the 2009. The sister cities build kindergartens and schools. They erect signs with names such as “Beijing Kindergarten”; “Beijing elementary school”; “Beijing middle-high school”; and leave their sign …