Making connectivity work

Exploring cross-border livelihoods between Kazakhstan and China

Authored by: Alff Henryk

Routledge Handbook of Asian Borderlands

Print publication date:  March  2018
Online publication date:  March  2018

Print ISBN: 9781138917507
eBook ISBN: 9781315688978
Adobe ISBN:


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This chapter focuses on the cross-border connections and socioeconomic practices of Dungans, a group of Chinese-speaking Muslims, in Central Asia. Being ancestors of Qing-era refugees hailing from the province of Shaanxi, Dungan community leaders in Kazakhstan, following on from Sino–Soviet rapprochement in the late 1980s, started to forge close interconnections with political and economic elites in China, aiming to (re-)establish socioeconomic links to what they often define as their ‘historical homeland’. The contribution traces these translocal interconnections between Kazakhstan and China, as well as the practices and sociospatial positioning they invoke, and it gives an account of the opportunities (and the renegotiation of sociocultural boundaries) that come with the dynamics of border regimes. It thus shows how the Dungans manage to situate themselves as influential brokers between China and Central Asia and as facilitators of change, thereby making use of their sociospatial liminality.

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