Author: Robert Lindsay
Barbarians on the Throne
The ability for cultures to evolve and change to the point that it would be unrecognizable by previous members has been around since the Paleolithic era, as societies became more advanced and as they adapted to both their political and natural geography their traditions, opinions, and morals changed. This change became even more noticeable as written records came into existence, as it allowed for a clear change to be observed over the course of time. These changes usually occur fluidly, as cultures adapt to their worlds and poor ideas die off, however there are some cases during which a cultural shift is forced upon a society, often bringing massive repercussions to that entire region. Many this change is rejected initially, as the affected peoples attempt to regain their culture and society. Very few times do cultures easily make way to these shifts without resistance, as they attempt to hold on to their traditions and beliefs.
|An image depicting probable Aryan migration routes|
|The Vedas, written in Sanskrit|
Another culture which is resisting assimilation in modern times are the Uighurs. The Turkic Uighurs are a people living within the Xinjiang Province of China, which is the eastern most province of China, touching eight different nations. The Uighur people have had varying degrees of freedom throughout history, as the Russians, Mongols, and Chinese fight over the territory. Sometimes, however, the Uighurs have maintained independence from its neighbors. When the Xinjiang Province fell into the control of the current Chinese government, the Chinese began increasing the wealth of the province by increasing its petrochemical output, which now makes up for 60% of the province's GDP. In order to assimilate the Uighurs, and also to help run the new industry in the area, the
government of China has been moving Han-Chinese people into the province since 1990. This has caused ethnic tensions between the Muslim Uighurs and the Buddhist or non-religious Han, as the Uighurs believe the area to be theirs, and desire to separate from China. The Uighur peoples also believe that they have been discriminated and marginalized against by the current government. The separatist movement has received support from several Muslim organizations, such as the East Turkestan Liberation Movement. The separatists have been responsible for several protests, and also blamed for several terrorist attacks, such as bus bombings and attacking Han citizens. The government's response has been harsh, often executing suspected terrorists and moving the army into the Xinjiang province.
|The Xinjiang Province|
Both of these cultural clashes are based off of the attempt to conquer and forcibly assimilate one culture into another, however each are different for several reasons. Both peoples were conquered by those with completely different religions, however the Dravidians had an unorganized pantheon simply based off of local folk lore and legend, while the Uighur people are Muslim, and have a strict clergy and belief. It is easier to assimilate an unorganized pantheon because less of the actual history is known, and the conquerors can assimilate pieces of it into their own religion in order to claim that the conquered were mostly right, they just forgot one piece. This assimilation of beliefs occurred with
the Gaelic religions and Christianity, as Christianity merged with several Gaelic beliefs to become what was known as the Celtic Church. The Uighur people have codes, and know everything they need about their religion, making it very hard to try to convince them to switch. They both know what will happen if they do switch and, Buddhism is such a different religion that the concept would seem foreign and strange. Both peoples, the Dravidians and Uighurs, have been discriminated against by their rulers, however in different ways. The Dravidians were forced to stay poor, as it was their caste, and could never own their own land. The Uighurs claim that their jobs are being replaced by the Han, who they think are getting preference. They also believe that they are being paid less for the few jobs they get. This means many are unable to find a steady source of income, unlike the Dravidians, who while having poor jobs, they were still employed. Both peoples are also being controlled by a culture wildly different than their own. The technological and peaceful Dravidians were conquered by the backwards and warlike Aryans, while the Muslim and Traditional Uighur peoples are being controlled by the Buddhist and non-religious Han, who are also more progressive. The Dravidians are an extreme example of a people being conquered by stark opposites, however the Uighur people are being controlled by a capitalistic society who have much different ideas on morals and laws than the Uighurs. While both peoples were conquered at different times, the circumstances they have been put in have been very similar. The quote,"Those who do not know the past are doomed to repeat it" can be applied directly to this situation. It may very well be in China's best interest to let the Xinjiang province go, before the backlash for attempting a forced change on the Uighur peoples occurs.
|Muslim Uighurs Protesting|