Development through Assimilation and Integration? Evidence from Kazak Pastoral Sedentarization in Xinjiang, China

Ding Fei, University of Minnesota
Chuan Liao, Cornell University

This paper analyzes the ongoing state-enforced sedentarization among Kazak pastoralists in northern Xinjiang, China as an effort to transform traditional mobile lifestyle and assimilate ethnic population into the majority Han society and means of livelihoods. Mixed methods, including questionnaire survey, semi-structured interview, and focus group discussion, were used to gather data from 159 ethnic households in Altay and Tianshan Mountains. We identified four types of households engaged in different stages of sedentarization, and utilized multinomial regression to examine the diverse willingness and capability to sedentarize among mobile households. We also investigated four risks associated with sedentarization projects: 1) landlessness and joblessness; 2) homelessness and loss of access to social services; 3) food insecurity and increased morbidity; 4) marginalization and social disarticulation. We conclude that the state logics behind "development through assimilation and integration" have resulted in further impoverishment and disempowerment of the ethnic pastoral population.

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Presented in Poster Session 6: Migration and Urbanization/Population, Development, and the Environment