chapter  2
‘If there is harmony in the house there will be order in the nation’ 1
An exploration of the Han Chinese as political actors in Xinjiang
WithDavid O’Brien
Pages 20

This chapter presents the findings of ethnographic research carried out in Xinjiang between 2009 and 2013. It examines the Han as political actors in Xinjiang, and interrogates the identity of generations of Han migrants to Xinjiang. The chapter defines a political actor as any person, group or organisation capable of exerting genuine influence on political, economic or security issues. While members of other ethnic groups can be considered political actors in Xinjiang, it demonstrates how the real power in Xinjiang lies in the hands of a small group of Han elite. The chapter identifies how a sense of 'Otherness' is central to identity in the region. It also demonstrates how this sense of 'Otherness' continues to evolve in ways that political actors in Urumqi and Beijing have less control over than they would like. Since the establishment of the Xinjiang Uyghur autonomous region (XUAR), there has been much bloodshed and insecurity and this continues to the present day.