- Southern Methodist University
Today most Uighurs are Muslims. But this was not always so. For centuries they were Buddhists. In their homeland along the Silk Road in what is now northwestern China, the Uighurs stood at the center of the Buddhist world and acted as intermediaries linking India and China, China and the West, and ultimately Tibet and Eurasia as a whole. One cannot understand Buddhist history – let alone the history of Asia – without recognizing the Uighurs’ pivotal role in shaping Eurasia’s history. Yet this history is virtually unknown. The aim of this project is to provide the first-ever comprehensive history of Buddhism among the Uighurs while exploring some of the key issues of our post-secular age: Why convert to a new religion? How is religion manifested and maintained? And finally, why abandon it?