Rémi Castets

With a substantial Uyghur population, Xinjiang (East Turkistan) is, after Uzbekistan, the second largest Muslim Turkic-speaking area of settlement area in Central Asia. Annexed by China fairly late, this territory has a tumultuous history punctuated by foreign interference and separatist insurrections. Through strict control of the regional political system and a massive influx of Han settlers, the communist regime has managed to integrate this strategic region and its large oil deposits into the rest of China. However, over the past twenty years, unrest in Xinjiang has dramatically intensified. Less familiar to Western countries than the problem of Tibet, the Uyghur question is nevertheless a deeper source of concern for the Chinese authorities. After a long media blackout about this unrest until September 11, 2001, the Chinese government issued a series of documents attempting to depict the Uyghur opposition as an outside terrorist force linked to transnational Islamist terrorist networks. This rhetoric, which portrays the current unrest as a foreign attempt to destabilize the region, conceals a deep socio-political malaise and an opposition that actually takes on a far different shape from the vision official discourse tries to impose.

Alexandra Goujon

Since May 1, 2004, the Ukraine and Belarus have become the European Union’s new neighbours. Moldova is bound to follow suit with Romania’s entrance, scheduled for 2007. Enlargement of the EU to the East has sparked debates on what relations the EU should have with its new border states that are not slated for membership in the near future. The discussion has led to the design of a European Neighbourhood Policy (ENP) that blends a regional approach based on shared values with a process of differentiation taking into account the specific characteristics of each country involved. Since their independence, the Ukraine, Belarus and Moldova have developed different identity-based strategies that the new ENP hopes to address while avoiding the creation of new divisions. These strategies in fact oppose those who wish to incorporate European values into their country’s political model and those who, on the contrary, reject these values. The relationship between identity and politics is all the more crucial for the EU’s eastern neighbours since it involves practices with a low level of institutionalization, in the areas of nation-building, the political system as well as foreign policy. A comparative approach confirms the idea that the EU’s new neighbours constitute a regional specificity due to their common past as Soviet republics and their geostrategic position. It also points up the differences between these states as they gradually transform into discrete political spaces with nationalized modes of identification and politicization.

Emmanuelle Le Texier

Since the early nineteen-eighties, the new political visibility of Latinos has been referred to as the awakening of a “sleeping giant.” Their increased political expression, be it in the form of protest action during civil rights movements or electoral participation, marks a turning point in the integration of Hispanics in the American public sphere. With a growing number of voters, candidates and elected officials, Latinos have emerged on the political scene. The increasingly influential role of pan-ethnic interest groups and new opportunities for political participation created by the development of transnational networks have contributed to the elaboration of this new participative framework. Yet their electoral and political influence remains below the demographic, economic, social and cultural importance of these some 35 million individuals who make up over 12 percent of the U.S. population. Most of the minority groups still encounter major obstacles to political access. These are partly structural, but also internal to the group: not only is it divided over domestic or foreign issues, it is fragmented by national origin, status and generation. The singular nature of immigration from Latin America, the continuity of migratory flows and their diversity, all constantly rekindle divergences over what strategy Latinos should adopt for participating in the public debate. They also highlight the fictional, both functional and dysfunction, nature of ethnic categorization in the United States. The ethnic card may be an instrument of participation, but it can also prove to seriously fetter minorities’ entry into politics.