Muslim Marriage in China: Uyghur Weddings in Kashgar

Wednesday, December 2, 2015
6:00 pm
Marshall D. Shulman Seminar Room (1219 IAB, 420 West 118th St.)
Photo: Carolyn Drake
Please join us for a talk with Rune Steenberg, INTERACT Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the Harriman Institute.
This talk is part of the Inner Asia Curricular Development project directed by Professors Alan Timberlake and Robert Barnett.
Weddings in Kashgar, as in most of Central Asia and beyond, are large and joyous celebrations hosting several hundred to more than a thousand guests. They consist of elaborate ritual proceedings and performances of music and dance. But they are more than this. In the city of Kashgar, the cultural heart of China’s restive western region of Xinjiang, weddings are saturated with highly loaded political symbolism. They are also central institutions in the social structure and economy of the local Muslim Uyghur population and offer primary spaces for the meeting of the state and local society.
Weddings become stages for political contestations, displays of piousness and the negotiation of ethnic identity. They have become the centers of conspicuous consumption and thus a driving force for local markets. They are also essential to the forging of community and social networks and for the establishment of power, status, and political loyalties beyond the state.
Using video clips and pictograms, Rune Steenberg will provide a thick description of Uyghur weddings in Kashgar, elaborating on the political, economic and social significances and symbolism of each step in the marriage process.
Rune Steenberg is an INTERACT Postdoctoral Research Scholar at the Harriman Institute, Columbia University. He finished his MA in anthropology and human geography in 2009 and his PhD at the Berlin Graduate School Muslim Cultures and Societies in 2014. Steenberg’s research focuses on kinship, social networks, exchange and border trade in Central Asia and western China, especially Kyrgyzstan and Xinjiang where he has conducted extensive fieldwork.