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External Kin, Ethnic Identity and the Politics of Ethnic Mobilization in the People's Republic of China Open Access

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Why are some ethnic groups in a given country more politically mobilized than others? In particular, why are some ethnic minority groups, such as the the Uighurs, are more political mobilized than other ethnic minority groups in China? Situated within the comparative literature, this dissertation examines conditions under which ethnic minority groups in China would be more likely to mobilize for more autonomy from the Chinese state. It pays special attention to the interactive process between domestic and international factors in the construction and maintenance of ethnic identity in China, and how a specific configuration between domestic and international factors contribute to the likelihood of ethnic minority groups mobilizing for more autonomy. In this dissertation, I argue that it is only when external kin enjoy better living conditions and provide support for the ethnic minority group will we be able to expect the ethnic minority group to be more likely to mobilize. This dissertation is primarily concerned with a comparative analysis of four ethnic minority groups in China--Uighurs in Xinjiang, Mongols in Inner Mongolia, Ethnic Korean Joseonjok in Yanbian, and Dai in Xishuangbann. It examines in detail the comparative framework each group engages with their external kin relations and the amount of external support each group receives. Through such a comparative study, this dissertation explores the discrepancies among these four ethnic groups in terms of political strategies that they adopt towards the Chinese state. It offers an explanation to account for why the Uighurs would seek overtly to gain more autonomy or even independence from the Chinese state, while other groups choose to either emigrate from or assimilate into the Chinese society. Other than these four cases, this dissertation also tests the main hypothesis using the Minority At Risk (MAR) dataset to see how far the argument travels.

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