The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in China is home to some 12 million indigenous Turkic speaking Muslims, primarily Uyghurs but also smaller numbers of Kazakhs and others. It is now one of the most heavily policed areas in the world. Inhabitants are controlled and monitored to an extraordinary degree and detained in extraordinary numbers. These extreme policies are justified by the claim that China is fighting Islamic radicalisation and extremism.
As Central Eurasian researchers and scholars, we sometimes find ourselves working in a field over-determined by tired and limited tropes, particularly when news about the region makes its way to the mainstream press. As curator and online zine editor Ciarán Miqeladze wryly puts it, “Uzbekistan is no different in this matter. The Central Asian country is constantly treated to the same narrative of a post-Soviet, despot-controlled country, replete with bridenappings, magical men on horses, and Instagram-able mountain ranges housing radical Islamic terrorists.” However, at the avant garde culture site Post Pravda, where Ciaran and his colleagues are working to amplify local and alternative voices from the Caucasus to Eastern Europe and beyond, the goal is to provide different viewpoints and narratives. Continue reading Check out new blogs on Central Asia: Exploring ‘Scapes’ of Sight and Sound
Friends please check out the wonderful blog by Guldana Salimjan, “Singing Back to the Steppe: Kazakh Poetry Battles in Contemporary Xinjiang” – originally published at Radii and livingotherwise.com, which are run by fellow colleague Darren Byler, who is writing a series of blogs on ‘The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia’! Continue reading Check out new research on Xinjiang!
Broader Lessons to Be Learned
A recent Foreign Policy op-ed by Whitney Kassel on the Xinjiang conflict represents an excellent example of the conceptual divide between the academic and policy-security communities. Continue reading The Xinjiang Conflict, Western Response, & Lessons for Academics and Policy Makers – Part II
In a private English lesson in a classroom in Urumqi, a young Han Chinese girl and I were discussing American TV. A lull in the conversation led to a pause, and she hesitated. A furtive look came across her face as she checked her surroundings for eavesdroppers. “You know…I hate Uighur people”, she said.< Continue reading The Xinjiang Conflict, Western Response, & Lessons for Academics and Policy Makers – Part I