Kirghiz in Little Kara Köl: The Forces of Modernisation in Southern Xinjiang

  • Hermann KreutzmannEmail author
Part of the Advances in Asian Human-Environmental Research book series (AAHER)


The Chinese modernisation programme has affected even the remotest high mountain pastures of Xinjiang. The dynamics of such processes are exemplified in a case study from the Chinese Pamirs and are analysed in regard to their importance for adaptation and development. Based on a diachronic examination of transformation processes related to Kirghiz nomads, special emphasis is put on four stages of transformation that might lead from mobile pastoralism to a township settlement. Developments affecting the Kirghiz nomads of Little Kara Köl may be classified as transformations in space and time, resulting in the integration of this marginal region into the permanently settled areas of Xinjiang. Externalities in the field of social structure and political administration have supported this integration and growing dependence on the commercial and service centres of the foreland oases.


Modernisation Resettlement Kirghiz Pamir Kizil Su Xinjiang 



Archival and empirical evidence presented in this chapter was collected during the last 20 years, with generous funding provided by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Volkswagen Foundation which is gratefully acknowledged.


1. The current state of affairs is described by An et al. (2011, 123): ‘At present, the prefecture has contracted out approximately 80.5% of the pastures’.

2. The name of Bulunkul dadui (production brigade) was changed into Fanxiu dadui in 1967. In 1984, it was renamed as Bulunkul xiang (autonomous village). The settlement covers an area of 4,585 km2 of which 31,290 ha are identified as pastures and 665 ha as forage grassland for fodder production.

3. Economic and livestock data for 2009 were kindly provided by Ms. Zhao Lixin, Xinjiang Academy of Agricultural Sciences, Urumchi.

4. Compared to the distribution in Akto County – 26.5% in the livestock sector and two-thirds in remaining agricultural activities – the importance of pastoralism in Bulunkul is obvious. Areawise, only 3.6% are utilised for agriculture, whilst 96.4% are classified as mountain pastures (China Statistics Press 2010).

5. The government’s expenditure per house was estimated at 160,000 yuan (app. 24,000 USD).

6.Akto County’s Poverty Alleviation Programme (fu min an ju), Reservoir Resettlement Programme (ku qu yi min ban qian), Nomads Settlement Programme (you mu min ding ju) and the Jiangxi Affordable Housing Dwelling Ceremony (Jiang xi bao zhang xing zhu fang mu min ru zhu yi shi) are applied in Bulunkul xiang. The Reservoir Resettlement Programme has facilitated the resettlement of 451 households (1,643 persons) from the Gez Gorge within Kizil Su due to the implementation of the Bulunkou-Gonggeer Hydropower Project.

7. Whilst the increase in Bulunkul was significant, during the same period, the livestock numbers in the prefecture grew only by a factor of 2.8 (An et al. 2011, 126).

8. Cf. for the proceedings of the conference Xinchun (2011).

9. The quotations are taken from the English simultaneous translation of the presentation by Zhao Xinchun, deputy director and chief scientist of Animal Husbandry, during the regional workshop in Kashgar on July 20, 2010; cf. Zhao Xinchun (2011).


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Human Geography, Department of Earth Sciences, Centre for Development Studies (ZELF) and Institute of Geographical SciencesFreie Universität BerlinBerlinGermany

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