Xiaowei Zang's book Uyghur Conceptions of Family and Society aims to measure Uyghur thinking and perceptions of modernity using a survey of Uyghurs living in Xinjiang, China (hereafter PRC). The survey was administered by Zang and local collaborators in 2007 to a randomized sample of 884 Uyghur households. Zang compares Uyghur responses to questions about family life and economic activity along a spectrum of presumed global norms. In Zang's words, “I use concrete issues to assess levels of backwardness or civility among Uyghurs in this book” (p. 1). Although using the two concepts of “backwardness” and “civility” as givens is quite controversial in scholarly circles outside the PRC, Zang has most likely translated those terms from PRC state rhetoric, which presumes them as key values and metrics for evaluating humanity.

By “concrete issues,” Zang means spousal relations, parenting, trust, community engagement, economic beliefs, and mastery. By “mastery,” Zang is referring...

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