Negotiating Identities in Cross-Cultural Contexts: A Case Study of Xinjiangban Students in China

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Since its implementation in 2000, the inland Xinjiang senior secondary school class policy (Xinjiangban policy) has promoted and funded middle-school students, mostly ethnic minorities from Xinjiang, to attend boarding schools in predominantly Han-populated cities throughout eastern China. The purpose of this policy is to improve ethnic minority students’ political, economic, and cultural status, enhance ethnic unity, and promote Chinese nationalism. Existing literature on this policy has commonly focused on students’ experiences in school contexts, interpreting ethnic minority students’ identity from a dualist either/or perspective. Less is known about how this policy has influenced and impacted students’ self-perceptions in their everyday practices. This article draws on the work of Sedikides and Brewer, which defines identity at three different levels–individual, relational, and collective–to provide a multi-layered understanding of identity formation and change in Xinjiangban students. The findings show that these students experience feelings of uncertainty and alienation in their educational journey, and that their identity shifts according to contexts and expectations that derive from multiple sources including self, others, and community.




Su, X., Harrison, N., & Moloney, R. (2023). Negotiating Identities in Cross-Cultural Contexts: A Case Study of Xinjiangban Students in China. Asian Studies Review.

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