Living Otherwise: Buddhist Photography on the New Silk Road

Images of Political Attachments

Reading the images for a signs of politics we see symbolic attachments to things that are fading among elderly Uyghur migrants. For example, we see an old Uyghur man holding up a little red book of Mao Zedong’s sayings.  Often older Uyghur migrants to Ürümchi first came to the city during the Cultural Revolution when they were mobilized as Red Guards from students at rural schools. 
For many Uyghur migrants, the activities they undertook during this period profoundly altered the course of their lives. Following the death of Mao, many of them were ostracized by their rural communities for participating in activities opposed to Uyghur cultural values and as a result began wandering the province not in search of economic opportunities, but anonymity and a chance to start over. Uyghur Red Guards​ often look back on this period with a sense of painful nostalgia. It was a chaotic time when a world of possibility was open to them, but it also often marked a violent departure from their social origins. 

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