Heiyoushan Monument in Karamay

The Relics of Empire: Resource Extraction and the Making of Modern Xinjiang

Heiyoushan Monument in Karamay

Heiyoushan, in Karamay, is a monument to the oil springs that first attracted the attention of Soviet planners and a key stop on the city’s oil-themed tourist itinerary. The site (also shown in image 9) boasts a monument to a Uyghur named Salim, who is said to have first stumbled across the springs in the mid-nineteenth century. With little evidence of the story in the historical record before the 1990s, it seems apocryphal—a ham-fisted effort at historical “affirmative action,” to draw on historian Terry Martin’s use of the term, in an area that is far and away populated by Han Chinese (Martin 2001).

Martin, Terry. 2001. The Affirmative Action Empire: Nations and Nationalism in the Soviet Union, 1923­–1939. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.