About

10406532_10152519665924066_8667613630436038415_n (2)The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia (ALACCA) is curated and written by Darren Byler, a doctoral researcher in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington, in collaboration with Uyghur, Han and Kazakh writers. The site is focused on emerging forms of art and politics in Northwest China and Central Asia. Based on years of ethnographic fieldwork in the art communities of Ürümchi, this site exists to provide a space for Xinjiang artists, film-makers, writers, musicians and poets. It is here to tell the stories of migrants who come to city in search of ways of living otherwise. The general aim is to recognize and create dialogue around the ways minority people create a durable existence and, in turn, how these voices from the margins link us together in simultaneously distinctive and connected ways. This site has recently moved to it’s new location, and is on the second life of many…. As long as the authors hold the دۇتار the general idea is to add new content regularly as well as build and maintain an archive of Xinjiang popular culture. 

Under the pseudonym Beigewind this site is also syndicated by the on-line news journal Beijing Cream and Radii!

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12 Comments

      • Thank you! I will check them out. Also interested in current movies/documentaries on XUAR. I have tried to contact the guys who made “Silk road of pop” but getting no response; still hoping to get my hands on a copy at some stage. In the meantime I listen to Six city and Exmetjan on YT :o)
        Thanks
        Jenny

  1. Peter Lim says

    hello, i like your blog and writing. I’ve had an interest in this part of the world (Central Asia, i.e. ‘the Stans’, Xinjiang region of China, etc.) since i was a child and have always dreamed of visiting this ‘greater Turkestan’ whole region, at least parts of it (i know that i’d better get started if i’m ever to do this, as i’m now soon to be 48 🙂
    Having been born/raised in ‘the West’ (NorCal- S.F. Bay area), in the U.S. to Korean immigrant parents (i.e. growing up/being ‘Asian in America’), and living here all of my life, I think, at least partly, may explain my interest in this (‘eurasian’ looking people/cultures, ‘east- west’ cross- cultural dynamic, being/feeling like a ‘minority in my own country’ (and, as Asiatic peoples are indigenous to North, South American continents, Siberia, etc.- where they’re now the ‘other’- minority/marginalized people and ‘culture’) who feel under represented in ‘mainstream society’ etc.).
    So, now, with the increase in ‘outward hostilities’ btwn. Uighurs and Han Chinese (which i’ve been following in mainstream news outlets, e.g. Yahoo news, etc.) and because i ‘look chinese’, and, it seems (i’m not there, so i don’t know ‘the situation’ how it really is there btwn. these two groups, and in ‘day to day’ dealings, on the street, in stores, movie theaters, etc.) the growing ‘anti- Chinese’ sentiment there, in Xinjiang, the bigger cities etc., over these recent yrs., i’m wondering how i will (i.e. might expect to) be ‘treated’ there, not only as a visitor/traveler (in ‘day to day’ interactions/dealings as a visitor or living/studying there), say, such as in the larger urban city areas (Urumqui, Kashgar, etc.). Thank You

    • Hi Peter, I don’t think you need to be too concerned about your safety in traveling to Xinjiang. Although we often hear about violence in the region from mainstream Western media outlets, you will rarely encounter this when you go to Xinjiang — particularly if you travel in urban and high traffic areas. You also might be surprised at how many ethnic Koreans there are in Urumchi (actually if you travel in Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan you will encounter even more — something on the order of 500,000 people: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Koryo-saram). Xinjiang is a lovely place to visit, so don’t let the difficulties of life there stop you from visiting.

      • Shërin Chüsh says

        Have you ever been concerned about the feeling of non-Uyghur groups who are born and raised in Xinjiang? The tyranny has deprived us of freedom of speech and the right to gain transparency. Do you want to do the same thing as the tyranny does? It’s not a good idea to delete a neutral comment which is not related to ethnic hatred and prejudice at all. To listen to the voice of all Xinjiang dwellers, including non-Uyghur peoples, should be the job of an anthropologist, right? The enemy is not people, Uyghur or Han, but the political system that has existed for over 2000 years, which the westerners call autocracy, plutocracy, or tyranny and some Chinese scholars call “马表法里”, literally meaning “Marxism outside with the Autocracy based on the Fa/Han-fei-zi school inside”.

    • Shërin Chüsh says

      I do think you need to be kind of concerned about your safety in traveling to Xinjiang. It is really irresponsible to conceal the fact that there always have been ethnic hatred between these two groups, at least some members of both groups, and public security will be threatened if the regime’s security force is removed from streets and roads. Mostly, you are safe when traveling in Xinjiang, which is the case and cannot be denied. Nobody, nevertheless, is able to secure your safety whenever and wherever. Mathematically, it is a probability problem. Xinjiang dwellers do need a good reputation, say, “this is a peaceful place merely with little exceptions at times, so calm down and don’t worry”, but they are more eager to need truth and transparency. NO CONCEALMENT, NO ANXIETY. Only TRUTH and TRANSPARENCY give birth to REAL SAFETY. Of course, my own experience cannot represent the entire truth in Xinjiang. Nobody living in Xinjiang have ever entitled me to represent them. Therefore, whether or not you need to be too much concerned about your safety in Xinjiang depends on yourself. Good luck and have a good journey.

  2. Hi Peter, like you, I dream of visiting XUAR too, and Central Asia in general, I am 35 and hoping to go before I turn 50 at least! With 2 small children it is a bit tricky to get the money together. Hoping to go for work but struggling to get any contacts in my field of work in Urumqi. Hope you get to go! Jenny E, Australia.

  3. Hi Darren –

    Just sending greetings, as I’ve just subscribed to your blog. Very nice stuff… I’ve made several trips through Xinjiang and I think serious study of the built environment there is long overdue.

    Something you might appreciate: Here are little collection of photos of doors in Turpan I took a few years ago. https://picasaweb.google.com/twosmallblocks/TurpanDoors?authuser=0&authkey=Gv1sRgCIatw9f5kqPPcw&feat=directlink

    all the best, and keep posting,
    – ht

  4. Darren Byler (雷风) says

    Thank you Shërin Chüsh, yes, you are right the name of the book is “Down a Narrow Road”

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