Skip to main content Accessibility help

The Xinjiang Class: Multi-ethnic Encounters in an Eastern Coastal City

  • Zhenjie Yuan (a1), Junxi Qian (a2) and Hong Zhu (a3)
  • Please note a correction has been issued for this article.


The Xinjiang Class (Xinjiang neidi ban, or Xinjiangban) has far-reaching implications for Beijing's governance of ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. Existing literature has focused primarily on the Uyghur–Han dichotomy, with limited attention being paid to the actual multi-ethnic interactions that constitute the situated dynamics of policy implementation. Utilizing the notions of the space of prescription and the space of negotiation to develop an analytical framework, this paper argues that social relations in the Xinjiangban are ongoing constructions borne by everyday experiences of domination and negotiation, and that space is constitutive of this situated dynamic. Based on nearly four years of research at a Xinjiangban, we make a case for the fluidity and incoherence of the implementation of the Xinjiangban policy. Those who implement it at the school level produce a space of prescription that deploys specific spatial–temporal arrangements to manage expressions of ethnic identity. Driven by the need to achieve upward mobility, minority students are open-minded about the Han- and patriotism-centred education. However, they use innovative and improvised tactics to create spaces of negotiation to re-assert their ethnicities. In the Xinjiangban, minority students do comply with spaces of prescription, but they simultaneously keep their ethnic and religious practices alive.

内地新疆高中班 (又名新疆内高班或新疆班) 政策对中国中央政府实施对新疆各少数民族的管治具有深远的意义。现有研究主要关注 “维—汉”二元关系, 较少讨论新疆班内不同民族的互动关系及其对政策实施的影响。采用 “设定的空间” (space of prescription) 与 “协商的空间” (space of negotiation) 为理论框架, 文章认为新疆班内部的社会关系在学校日常运作中的控制和协商互动中得以不断建构。在此动态的过程中, 空间是影响新疆班社会网络建构的重要因素。基于一个为期接近 四 年的实地调研, 文章揭示了新疆班政策实施中的不稳定性和不协调性。一方面, 学校层面的政策实施者通过采用特殊的时空布局来建构 “设定的空间”, 管理学生民族认同表达的机会。另一方面, 为了获得向上的社会流动, 少数民族学生对于以爱国和汉文化为中心的教育实际持开放的态度。然而, 少数民族学生会采取多变及灵活的策略来构建 “协商的空间”, 并以此重申和维系自身民族性。总体而言, 新疆班少数民族学生确实服从 “设定的空间” 的规训, 但同时通过 “协商的空间”的建构和实践来维系其民族和宗教认同。


Corresponding author

Email: (corresponding author).


Hide All
Baranovitch, Nimrod. 2003. “From the margins to the centre: the Uyghur challenge in Beijing.” The China Quarterly 175, 726750.
Bovingdon, Gardner. 2002. Strangers in Their Own Land: The Politics of Uyghur Identity in Chinese Central Asia. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Callon, Michel. 1986. “Some elements of a sociology of translation: domestication of the scallops and the fishermen of St. Brieuc Bay.” Power, Action, and Belief: A New Sociology of Knowledge 32, 196223.
Chen, Yangbin. 2008. Muslim Uyghur Students in a Chinese Boarding School: Social Recapitalization as a Response to Ethnic Integration. Lanham, MD: Lexington Books.
Chen, Yangbin. 2010. “Speaking Uyghur as a bonding social capital: boarding school for Uyghur students.” Diaspora, Indigenous, and Minority Education: An International Journal 4(1), 416.
Chen, Yangbin. 2014. “Towards another minority educational elite group in Xinjiang?” In Leibold, James and Chen, Yangbin (eds.), Multicultural Education in China: Balancing Unity with Diversity. Hong Kong: The University of Hong Kong Press, 201218.
Chen, Yangbin, and Postiglione, Gerard A.. 2009. “Muslim Uyghur students in a dislocated Chinese boarding school: bonding social capital as a response to ethnic integration.” Race/Ethnicity: Multidisciplinary Global Contexts 2(2), 287309.
Dickar, Maryann. 2008. Corridor Cultures: Mapping Student Resistance at an Urban High School. New York: New York University Press.
Fenwick, Tara J., and Edwards, Richard. 2010. Actor-Network Theory in Education. London: Routledge.
Gladney, Dru. C. 1996. Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People’s Republic. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Gladney, Dru. C. 2004. Dislocating China: Reflections on Muslims, Minorities and Other Subaltern Subjects. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Grose, Timothy. 2008. “Educating Xinjiang's Uyghurs: achieving success or creating unrest?The Virginia Review of Asian Studies 11, 117135.
Grose, Timothy A. 2010a. “The Xinjiang class: education, integration, and the Uyghurs.” Journal of Muslim Minority Affairs 30(1), 97109.
Grose, Timothy A. 2010b. “The Tibet and Xinjiang neidi classes: the aims, strategies, and difficulties of educating a new generation of ethnic minority students.” Chinese Education & Society 43(3), 39.
Grose, Timothy A. 2015. “(Re)Embracing Islam in neidi: the ‘Xinjiang class’ and the dynamics of Uyghur ethno-national identity.” Journal of Contemporary China 24(91), 101118.
Harrell, Stevan, and Ma, Erzi. 1999. “Folk theories of success: where Han aren't always the best.” In Postiglione, Gerard A. (ed.), China’s National Minority Education: Culture, Schooling, and Development. New York: Falmer Press, 213241.
He, Baogang. 2014. “The power of Chinese linguistic imperialism and its challenges to multicultural education.” In Leibold, James and Chen, Yangbin (eds.), Minority Education in China: Balancing Unity and Diversity in an Era of Critical Pluralism. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 4564.
Hetherington, Kevin. 1995. “The utopies of social ordering – Stonehenge as a museum without walls.” The Sociological Review 43(S1), 153176.
Kong, Lily. 2001. “Religion and technology: refiguring place, space, identity and community.” Area 33(4), 404413.
Latour, Bruno. 1996. Aramis, or the Love of Technology. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.
Latour, Bruno. 2005. Reassembling the Social. An Introduction to Actor-Network-Theory. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Latour, Bruno, and Woolgar, Steve. 1986. Laboratory Life: The Construction of Scientific Facts. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press.
Law, John. 1992. “Notes on the theory of the actor-network: ordering, strategy, and heterogeneity.” Systems Practice 5(4), 379393.
Leibold, James. 2013. Ethnic Policy in the PRC: Where is China Heading? Honolulu, HI: East-West Center.
Luo, Jihua. 2010. “Multicultural education and the acculturation of students in the interior-region Xinjiang senior middle school classes.” Chinese Education & Society 43(3), 2234.
Mitchell, Katharyne, Marston, Sallie A. and Katz, Cindi (eds.). 2004. Life’s Work: Geographies of Social Reproduction. Oxford: Blackwell Publications.
Mol, Annemarie, and Law, John. 1994. “Regions, networks and fluids: anaemia and social topology.” Social Studies of Science 24(4), 641671.
Murdoch, Jonathan. 1997. “Towards a geography of heterogeneous associations.” Progress in Human Geography 21(3), 321337.
Murdoch, Jonathan. 1998. “The spaces of actor-network theory.” Geoforum 19(4), 357374.
Postiglione, Gerard A. 1992. “China's national minorities and educational change.” Journal of Contemporary Asia 22(1), 2044.
Postiglione, Gerard A. 2009. “Dislocated education: the case of Tibet.” Comparative Education Review 53(4), 483512.
Postiglione, Gerard A., and Jiao, Ben. 2009. “Tibet's relocated schooling: popularization reconsidered.” Asian Survey 49(5), 895914.
Robertson, Susan L. 2010. “‘Spatializing’ the sociology of education: stand-points, entry-points, vantage-points.” In Apple, Michael W., Ball, Stephen J. and Gandin, Luis Armando (eds.), The Routledge International Handbook of the Sociology of Education. London: Routledge, 1526.
Scott, James C. 1985. Weapons of the Weak: Everyday Forms of Peasant Resistance. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press.
Soja, Edward W. 1985. “The spatiality of social life: towards a transformative retheorisation” In Gregory, Derek and Urry, John (eds.), Social Relations and Spatial Structures. Basingstoke: Macmillan, 90127.
Soja, Edward W. 1989. Postmodern Geographies: The Reassertion of Space in Critical Social Theory. New York: Verso.
Tsering, Dobrgyal. 2010. “Neidi Xinjiang gaozhongban zouguo shinian” (Ten years of development of Xinjiangban). Zhongguo minzu jiaoyu Z1, 13.
Yan, Fei, and Whitty, Geoff. 2016. “Towards inter-cultural education in Xinjiang, northwest China?” In Bash, Leslie and Coulby, David (eds.), Establishing a Culture of Intercultural Education. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 121153.
Yu, Jie. 2001. “Zhili zhiyuan Xinjiang, banhao neidi Xinjiang gaozhongban” (Offering intellectual support to Xinjiang, managing the Xinjiangban well). Zhongguo minzu jiaoyu 3, 3.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

The China Quarterly
  • ISSN: 0305-7410
  • EISSN: 1468-2648
  • URL: /core/journals/china-quarterly
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *



Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed

A correction has been issued for this article: