All posts tagged: Youth

Uyghur Hip-Hop as Folk Music

Adil Mijit is not the only Uyghur comedian to incorporate a discussion of hip-hop into his performances. In the recent state-sponsored film Shewket’s Summer directed by Pan Yu with assistance from Beijing Film Academy students, Abdukerim Abliz joins the Uyghur hip-hop crew Six City as a reticent folk musician (see the 117 minute mark in the above film). The film, which is both a “coming-of-age” and “parent-trap” melodrama, highlights the way conflicts resolved at the level of the family have larger implications for society. Although the film is heavy in the propaganda of ethnic harmony (a Han character named Luobin [!] is featured as an aspiring musician in search of “original” tunes and then as an inspiration to the Uyghur characters), the slick production values and money behind the film present Uyghur folk arts in a strongly positive light. As a wise Native American activist and anthropologist once told me, “If The Man offers you money, you take the money.” Six City and Abdukerim took the money. The fact that the Uyghur-language poetics of Six City …

Aspiration, Masculinity and the City

Hezriti Ali’s film short and music video “With Me” Within the marriage market of the urban Uyghur community it has become almost a cliché to discuss the moral aptitude of young men in terms of their frequency of prayer. When introducing a potential boyfriend, the line given is “he prays five times a day” (Uy: u besh namazni jayida üteydu). Although this description often overlooks other moral failures such as drinking, smoking and general carousing, the overall connotation conveyed is “this guy is a good, responsible guy.” In the short film “With Me,” Hezriti Ali, another self-made migrant actor-muscian from the Southwest edge of the Taklamakan Desert, tackles this problem in an unusually subtle and implicit way. In the ten minute narrative film which proceeds his performance of the song, Hezriti lays out the context which migrant young men face in the city. Since, as for all Chinese men, the first duty of sons (particularly, for Uyghurs, younger brothers) is to one’s parents, rather than to one’s wife and her family,  underemployed strivers in the …