All posts tagged: Urban

Uyghur Women & Memetjan Semet’s film “Dad, I Love You”

A few weeks ago when talking to a Uyghur acquaintance he told me: “One the biggest problems among Uyghurs today is the rate of divorce. I think it is as high as 70 percent. Most of it is the fault of women. They have misunderstood what women’s equality is all about. They think that it means that they should be equal to men in every way; or that men should be just like them. They try to control men, stop them from going to bars. They order men to do housework, and then spend all of their money. They don’t understand that that is not their place. If they would be encouraging to men, than men would never cheat on them.” When I mentioned this conversation to the filmmaker Memetjan Semet he said: “That’s not true. The main reason people get divorced is because of men. Many men don’t understand just how difficult and stressful women’s work can be. They have to take care of the household, cook, clean and take care of their children. …

The Uyghur Migrant Food Network

When young people come to Ürümchi to work or study they are often supported by a whole network of people from their home village. They rely on relatives and friends to help them find jobs and help them get on their feet. But there are some things that their hosts in the city cannot provide: they can’t give their young visitors food from their home village. It is perhaps for this reason that young Uyghurs have developed a food shipping system that brings the tastes of the countryside into the city. This food arrives in boxes shipped in the cargo hold of sleeper buses from southern Xinjiang. What first began as a side-business for a store called Lukman at the South Ürümchi Bus Station has become a full-fledged shipping network across the oases of the South. Lukman handles thousands of boxes of nuts, raisins, pomegranates, cooked meat and special kinds of naan sent from the kitchens of concerned mothers to their sons and daughters across the desert. The boxes are marked with the name of …

Review of the Uyghur blockbuster “Money on the Road”

Update: A full-length version of Money on the Road (featuring Chinese and English subtitles) is now available to view for free on Youtube. In the autumn of 2014, just in time for the long ten-day break for the National Holiday and Qurban, the Uyghur comedian Abdukerim Abliz released his first full-length Uyghur language feature film (with Chinese and English subtitles). The comedy titled Money on the Road (or This is What Money Does from the Uyghur, and, Running with Money on the Road from the Chinese) features an ensemble cast of stars, including a cameo by the famous singer Abdulla. It follows the misadventures of three Uyghur farmers who come to the city as migrant workers to participate in Ürümchi’s urban renewal. Abdullah, who plays the role of a construction manager named Musa in charge of the demolition of degrading one-story housing on the south side of Ürümchi’s ring road, invites the three down-on-their-luck farmers from his home town near Kucha to come to the city and work for cash. Although they arrive in the city with “hungry-eyes” as …

Baseball in Xinjiang and the Documentary “Diamond in the Dunes”

The new documentary film Diamond in the Dunes, directed by Christopher Rufo (free streaming on PBS until September 8 for those with VPNs), tells the coming-of-age story of a Uyghur man named Parhat as he finds his way through college. It shows us how he and his Uyghur and Han classmates at Xinjiang University develop a passion for a game, for abilities and skills that don’t rely on ethnicity or Chinese business connections. It shows us how the citywide riots of 2009 shaped their life-paths and how they found ways to move forward despite the difficulties of their circumstances. Parhat tells this story by showing us how he motivated his fellow players to think beyond themselves and their abilities to speak and act. Even though he lacks the words to fully express what he feels in Chinese, he tries; even though his team has little support and little training in how to play, they try. Parhat knows what it means to experience feelings of lack — of not being good enough — but he also knows what …