Education From The Periphery: Intersectionality And Rural Uyghur Students In Higher Education In China

  • Rebecca Clothey Drexel University
  • Arafat Otkur
  • Jeaná Morrison


This paper examines how rural origin combines with ethnicity as a factor in higher education access among one ethnic group, the Uyghur, a Muslim minority who mostly reside in China’s northwestern Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. As one of China’s 55 officially recognized minority groups, many of whom reside in rural areas, Uyghurs make an interesting case study for equality of higher education access. The paper is based on a review of relevant policies, ethnographic fieldwork and semi-structured interviews with Uyghur university students, graduates, and the faculty who teach them.  The paper uses ‘intersectionality’ to illustrate that the circumstances of ethnic minorities from some rural areas are unique and distinct from those of ethnic minorities from urban areas, and thus ethnicity and rural origin should not be considered in isolation in policy-making or research endeavors.