A Monumental Contribution that Closes a Gap in Uyghur History “General History of the Uyghurs” Has Been Published

A large scale 12 volume work, General History of Uyghurs, written by Uyghur-American historian Dr. Nabijan Tursun, is in the publication process. As a start, volumes 7 and 8 of the General History of the East Turkestan Republic have been published by the Uyghur Research Institute. As a part of the 12 volume complete work, volumes 7 and 8 focus on the recent history of the East Turkestan Republic (established in 1944).

The Uyghurs are a Turkic people whose history is entwined with cultural and state traditions in Eurasia. The Uyghurs’ centuries-long political, socio-economic, and cultural history have attracted the attention of world scholars for two centuries. Despite the number of works published on Uyghur history such as The History of Uyghurs and The History of East Turkestan, there has not yet been an academic work on general Uyghur history that comprehensively illuminates the historical developments of the Uyghur people from ancient times to the present day. Dr. Nabijan Tursun has filled this gap with his seminal 12 volume work – General History of Uyghurs – to which he has dedicated nearly 30 years of his life, energy and intellect.

General History of the Republic of East Turkestan is an integral part of Dr. Nabijan Tursun’s General History of the Uyghurs. This particular section covers the entire East Turkestan National Liberation Revolution between 1943 and 1950, over a total of 5 volumes. The author describes in great detail the military, political, socio-economic, cultural, and all other state-specific features of the East Turkestan Republic using original documents, including archival materials from the East Turkestan Republic, the former Soviet Union, the US, and Taiwan, as well as various other sources that include oral history and research materials in Russian, English, Chinese, Uyghur and other Turkic languages.

In particular, the author presents many Soviet archive documents and other related documents he has collected since his doctoral studies in Moscow in the 1990s, complemented by data collected from dozens of other witnesses. This diverse evidence base sheds light on the internal mysteries, international dynamics, and other sensitive, previously-unexplored aspects related to the East Turkestan Republic. This 5 volume General History of the of the East Turkestan Republic provides a comprehensive analysis of the Uyghur people’s experiences of the independent state of the East Turkestan Republic until 1950. Although a number of specific works and articles have been published on this time period in some countries, Dr. Nabijan Tursun’s work is one of the most detailed and complete historical accounts that draws upon multiple sources, reinforced by a strong academic historiographical methodology. With the intention of illuminating recent Uyghur history for his readers, volumes 7 and 8 will be published first. Other volumes will be presented to readers in the near future.

Commenting on his book General History of the Uyghurs, Dr. Nabijan Tursun said, “For two centuries, Uyghur history has been written by Russians, Chinese and others. Our people were left in the dark, only to rely on Uyghur history written by non-native sources. China, on the other hand, has thrust to our people Uyghur histories imbued with China’s political agenda and ideological perspective. Uyghurs deserve to know their real history. This is the history of the Uyghur nation, which is one of the most ancient peoples of Eurasia, which created rich ancient cultural contributions. The fundamental reason for my decision to write about the history of the Uyghur nation is because this collection is informed by our own research, our own views and understandings, which will result in the most complete and academic rendition of our history. I dedicated 30 years of my life to writing this comprehensive book. I actually started writing General History of The East Turkestan Republic, which was part of General History of the Uyghurs, in Moscow in the 1990s. I am proud to announce the publication of my work to the world, and I dedicate it as a gift to the date of the founding of East Turkestan Republic in November 12, 1933 and 1944. The remaining parts of my work will be presented to our readers in the very near future.”

Dr. Erkin Ekrem, Director of the Uyghur Research Institute, acknowledged the scientific value of the book. He said “Dr. Nabijan Tursun’s General History of the East Turkestan Republic is part of his invaluable multi-volumed scholarly work, General History of Uyghurs, that covers a momentous period of East Turkestan history. His research highlights the complex epochs that arose from the intervention of the Soviets and the major powers in the political balance of the region in that time period. His books are the product of many years of hard work and in-depth research, which rely on a variety of sources. His work gives our people the opportunity to become acquainted with the closed pages of the history of our country and provides important clues in terms of recognizing the historical causes of some of the current developments in the region.”

Uyghur historian in Central Asia, Prof. Dr.Ablet Kamalov, President of  the European Society for Central Asian Studies, commented on the work, he said: “Dr. Nabijan Tursun’s current research has made a significant contribution to the study of the international historiography of the East Turkestan Republic and the understanding of the political climate during that period. His greatest achievement is creation of the first multi-volumed General History of the East Turkestan Republic. He uses his Uyghur, Russian, English, Chinese, and Turkic language knowledge to cross-reference Uyghur sources and documents of the East Turkestan Republic with various Soviet archives, Western archives, Chinese sources, and other sources of all the parties involved in the political events of that period. By doing so, he sheds light on the key role of Uyghurs and other local peoples in the independent development of the government, military, economy, and culture of the East Turkestan Republic based on credible facts and meticulous detail. In doing so, he rejects viewpoints in the field of history that downplay the role of indigenous peoples, such as the Uyghurs, in the formation and administration of the East Turkestan Republic; thereby rejecting the normative view that portrays Uyghurs as passive objects in the politics of the great powers”.

Prof. Dr. Alimjan Inayet, President of the Uyghur Academy, Head of the Center for Turkish World Studies at Ege University, commented on Dr. Nabijan Tursun’s General History of the East Turkestan Republic: “At a time when the field of Uyghur studies has been severely cordoned off and suppressed by China, the studies of historian Dr. Nabijan Tursun have created a new breakthrough, giving new hope to our nation. He has completed remarkable research on the history of the Uyghur people. Part of the result of the General History of the Uyghurs is that the General History of the East Turkestan Republic is by far the most versatile, systematic, comprehensive, detailed, reliable, and objective of all of the works on this subject. He has relied upon academic methodologies, original documents of that time, oral testimony of witnesses, Soviet and American archives, and other valuable historical materials to analyze, explain and describe the process, causes, and consequences of the East Turkestan Republic. He uses his research to indicate that the political history of the people of East Turkestan is not only something only of the past, but an important foundation for the national ideology and future development of the Uyghurs.”

Commenting on this, Mr. Abdurehim Dolat, a researcher at the Uyghur Research Institute and a doctoral student in history at Selcuk University, said: “I think the greater the scientific value of this work, the greater its practical value for the current East Turkestan cause. A good study of our history is one of the most important conditions for the correct formulation of our advocacy strategy moving forward. I think this great work has filled a very important gap in this regard and is a must-read not only for the general public, but also for those interested in history, as well as for activists and politicians on the front lines.”.

After the publication of the 5 volume General History of the East Turkestan Republic, other volumes that are parts of the General History of the Uyghurs are scheduled to be presented to its readers one after another.

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