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PERFORMING COMMUNITY: MEMORY AND COLLECTIVE IDENTITY ON THE UYGHUR CENTRAL ASIAN STAGE
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|dc.title||PERFORMING COMMUNITY: MEMORY AND COLLECTIVE IDENTITY ON THE UYGHUR CENTRAL ASIAN STAGE|
|dcterms.abstract||The Uyghur dramatic arts create a space where culture and identity are not merely transmitted but collectively built, dismantled, and rebuilt through performances—interactions among performers and their audiences—in a didactic, if often also playful, way. Uyghur drama and sketch comedy, including performances disseminated in recorded form, are among the few genres of Uyghur performance that have received little influence from the Chinese state’s “happy minorities” narrative, primarily because of the Uyghur language itself and the reliance upon stories and conventions derived from Central Asian folklore. Since the inception of professionalized Uyghur dramatic performance in the 1930s, Uyghur artists have been able to widely transmit important information to their audiences in order to offer solutions to pressing and persistent social problems and to disseminate socialist propaganda. The newly developed stage arts built on Uyghur folk traditions, infusing indigenous storytelling conventions in communal settings with theatrical conventions and an ideal of professional standardization first encountered in foreign staged plays imported from Soviet Russia and the West. One very striking feature of modern Uyghur professional theatre is its reliance upon motifs, characters, and narratives directly adapted from a folk tradition encompassing communal performance forms of several kinds that lie on a continuum also including the literary and even the visual arts. Many of the stories used as sources by modern Uyghur dramatists and also—perhaps surprisingly to Westerners—the creators of itot, the uniquely Uyghur form of sketch comedy, are many centuries old; some are unique to Uyghurs, but most are shared with other neighboring Central Asian peoples, and some even stem from other parts of the Islamic world such as Persia or Arabia. A closely related feature of the modern Uyghur stage is the persistent inclusion of song, both solo and choral, instrumental music that may include extensive quasi cinematic “underscoring” and almost always features indigenous folk/classical instruments, and dance or choreographed dancelike movement. The reflexive recourse to music and dance as expressive modalities, like the reliance upon ancient stories, is deeply rooted in the tradition of the meshrep (literally, “gathering”), a celebratory communal event of great antiquity that includes many genres of lartely improvised performance, and which is felt by Uyghurs to be always the ultimate source of their modern theatre despite important foreign influences. In the familiar terms of modern Western theatre, the incorporation of music and dance within professional scripted stage performance crosses conceptual boundaries among “straight” drama, musical theatre, and opera—all terms that must be used with care in the central Asian context. Arguing that the theatre in Uyghur areas is primarily a vehicle for social mobilization and education, this dissertation postulates that the impulse for creating a modern Uyghur theatrical genre was and remains rooted in cultivating a unified collective identity for Uyghurs in their homeland in Xinjiang, today an “autonomous region” of the People’s Republic of China. Using archival sources to consider a select array of key Uyghur theatrical works, this study begins with a historical account of Uyghur folk performance. It includes a thorough literary analysis of major twentieth-century Uyghur staged dramas combined with an overview of contemporary Uyghur itot (sketch comedy) performances. Through a comparison of contemporary itot performances and those considered part of the Uyghur dramatic canon, this work investigates how these disparate narratives intersect, contradict, and possibly promote one another throughout modern Uyghur society. In addition, by piecing together the artistic creation narratives developed by Uyhgur artists throughout the region, this study aims to showcase how disparate artistic creations have shared similar objectives in the development of a unified Uyghur identity.|
|dcterms.description||Ph.D. Thesis. University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa 2018.|
|dcterms.publisher||University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa|
|dcterms.rights||All UHM dissertations and theses are protected by copyright. They may be viewed from this source for any purpose, but reproduction or distribution in any format is prohibited without written permission from the copyright owner.|
|Appears in Collections:||
Ph.D. - Theatre|
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