Research Student: Alex Chelegeer
A Trace of Integrating Minorities: Chinese Mongolian Elites, Their Identity, Mobility and Life Course.
My research explores a very charming topic on how ethnic groups being integrated in China. By using the Life Course method, it will trace and reveal the historical experience, identity, social ties, and mobility of Chinese-Mongolian elites. Who are they, how are they being selected and educated, to what extend will they cooperate with the central government and other compatriots?
As one of the key questions of Sociology of European Union is whether there is or will be a European society with cosmopolitan citizens and strong sense, the Chinese government is always facing a similar challenge on selecting and training its intercultural elites with a "united Chinese nationalism". Indeed, the People's Republic of China is founded by integrating Mongolia, Tibet, Xinjiang and other ethnic areas together and has tried to make social ties and sense with them for decades. While most of the aboriginal people were historically treated as aliens or invaders to Chinese culture and its civilization, as well as an object to be defensed or socialized.
Chinese Mongolian elites are being focused not only for their autonomous region being the third biggest part of China with 1,183,000sqm land and almost 6 million population, but also for their life being invisible in academic world compared with studies on Xinjiang and Tibet. Indeed, my thesis wants to revise the traditional viewpoint from focusing on policy failures to the success process of integration. The results may not only significant to Chinese central authority, but may also be enlightening to Sociology of European Union and other studies referred.
I was originally from China and completed my M.A. in Peking University in 2016. During that period I was discussing the influence of mass media on ethnic minorities. Prior to that, I had worked for 2 years as the media executive in a Chinese NGO focusing on educating migrant children.
For me, both the media representation and usage and the education system are significant parts of the integrating process, which make our society and the republic possible. With these experiences, I conducted a pre-fieldwork in the Beijing-Mongol community for 3 months just before I arrived in University of Leeds.
What motivated me to undertake PhD study?
Born in a traditional ethnic family in a remote town and being educated in central monolingual school with mandarin Chinese, I suffered culture conflicts and was always being treated as both a friend and an alien by people surrounded. That is why identity is among my top concerns all my life. And this is the initial reason driven me to undertake PhD study.
To be honest, it seems natural steps for understanding my own experience. As Homi Bhabha has quoted “in another’s country that is also your own, your person divides, and in following the forked path you encounter yourself in a double movement…once as stranger, and then as friend.” It is fascinating not only for me but also for other ethnic people as more and more of them have established small groups and societies seeking their identities. While different from the Halal and Tibetan issues, the peer pressure of Mongolians are much more positive towards the central government and the dominant Han’s culture. Why such differences come into being and how integration process works is treated as an enlightening and important question to be answered in this phase of study.