Accepted Paper:

"Lost in Translation" - Exploring Uyghur identity in Canada  


Dilmurat Mahmut (Maihemuti Dilimulati) (McGill University)

Paper long abstract:

Among Muslim immigrants who have been arriving in Canada in recent years, Uyghur immigrants from Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region of China reveal many special features. Their religious identity, language and other cultural rights have been facing serious threats under the current Chinese system (Bovingdon, 2010; Kanat, 2015). Thus, the intention of immigrating to Canada, including that of the highly educated and skilled Uyghur immigrants, to a great extent, is triggered by the necessity to protect their collective identity and cultural rights (Shichor, 2006). As such, this comparative study explores the identity reconstruction experiences of recent Uyghur immigrants in Quebec and English Canada.

Since early 2000s, Critical Race Theory has been applied to studying Muslim identities as Muslims have been subject to the old-fashioned race relationships under the growing discourse of islamophobia in the West (Gotanda, 2011). Accordingly, this article, through the lens of Critical Race Theory, as well as post-colonial perspectives, studies how the highly-educated (skilled) Uyghur immigrants reconstruct their ethnic and religious identities in Canada. The data of this qualitative study is obtained through 12 in-depth interviews conducted in Quebec, British Colombia, Ontario and Alberta. The data is analyzed through Critical Narrative Analysis which is an organic combination of Narrative Analysis and Critical Discourse Analysis (Souto-Manning, 2014). The initial findings show some different positions in Quebec and English Canada. Uyghurs in Quebec seem to feel discriminated more often than their counterparts in English Canada as the racial "Other", both in terms of ethnicity and religion. Meanwhile, this article tries to elucidate the subtle interactions between systemic discourses and everyday narratives of Uyghur immigrants in Canada.

Panel MIG-02
Migration and Identity