All posts tagged: Children

Uyghur Names as Signal and Noise

On May 10, 2017, Xinjiang University, the largest university in the Uyghur Autonomous Region, held a mass rally in the school’s sports complex. Thousands of Uyghur, Han and other ethnic minority students and faculty members were asked to attend the event in order to hear Communist Party leaders discuss what they referred to as “the overall goal.” This goal was to “mobilize the masses” in the ongoing war against the “infiltration” of destabilizing Islamic forces. They emphasized that China too had joined in the so-called “Global War on Terror” by proclaiming its own “People’s War on Terror” in 2014. The “terrorists” the Party leaders were referring to were members of the ethnic minority indigenous to the southern part of the region – the Uyghurs. They were also referring to a discursive shift in official policy. This discourse first described Uyghur claims to ethno-national autonomy in the 1990s as “separatism.” Following 9/11, descriptions of the same Uyghur rights protests, and emerging forms of Islamic piety, came to be categorized as “religious extremism” and “violent terrorism.” In …

Uyghur Kids And Their “Dream From The Heart”

PPTV version of the above video here for those without access to YouTube. A recent Uyghur-language short film called “Dream From the Heart” (English and Chinese subtitles) tells the story of a group of boys from Qaraqash, a county of more than half a million people in Southern Xinjiang. Shot as part of China Southern Airlines’s new ad campaign by the award-winning director Zhang Rongji (张荣吉), the film references the true stories of how self-taught and underfunded young people from the deep poverty of Hotan and Kashgar prefectures struggle to compete with more privileged opponents. So many teams of young confident athletes, musicians, speech competitors, and scientists in Southern Xinjiang practice all of their lives to reach the big stage in the city, only to find themselves blocked by the logistics of getting across the country or traveling across the globe. Many times they don’t have the equipment, the coaching, worldly knowledge, or the political support of people in the cities – all they have is a will to succeed and the toughness that comes from …

The Dreams of Uyghur Kids and the Film On A Tightrope

As the coils of economic development have tightened around the cities of Southern Xinjiang over the past dozen years, many Uyghur parents have increasingly found themselves without land, jobs and stable futures. In many cases the strain of existential insecurity is most sharply expressed in the lives of children. Kids who grow up in extreme poverty, speaking a minor language, are often left to fend for themselves as one or more of their parents leave to find odd and rare jobs in the city. If they are lucky these kids will stay with grandparents or uncles, but in some cases particularly if a father dies or disappears these children end up in orphanages or, per a dominant stereotype regarding Uyghur children born in the “balinghou” generation, they will be forced to join gangs of roving pickpockets. Trinh Min Ha once wrote that a stereotype is an “arrested representation of a changing reality,” that is, they are stories which have an element of truth but don’t necessarily neatly match the lived experience of those they address. …