All posts tagged: Han

‘Anticolonial friendships’: How should anthropologists learn from Uyghurs in contemporary China?

When I was first starting to research Xinjiang as a graduate student in the late 2000s, I spent a few weeks with a Taiwanese-American anthropologist at Berkeley named Cindy Huang, who was just finishing her doctorate. Cindy, whose parents were born in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province and who still has family there, had lived in Xinjiang for over a year just before the mass violence of 2009. In my conversations with her, and in her dissertation, she described the way Uyghur women welcomed her into their world as a friend and sister. After a year of building a relationship with her, her two closest Uyghur friends, Ayshe and Nurgul, cooked a special dinner for her. She wrote: For more than a year, Ayshe has been searching for a suitable Uyghur name for me. She finally settles on Zuhre, explaining that it is a name with Arabic origins, meaning bright, beautiful star. She shaves down a chopstick, dips it in a jar of ink and writes my new name in elegant script. We feast on rice and stir-fried …

Now Is the Moment for Global Solidarity with China’s Ethnic Minorities

President Xi Jinping wants to be leader for life, but brave Chinese citizens continue to speak out against the increasingly authoritarian rule. We must stand with them. DEENA GUZDER October 6, 2022 President Xi Jinping is on the verge of securing an unprecedented third term as the leader of the world’s most populous country, the People’s Republic of China. On October 16th, the Communist Party congress will declare Jinping as China’s ruler for an additional five years. Such congresses typically bring in a new batch of rulers but Xi, who is also head of state and leader of the military, amended the party constitution in 2018 to remove all term limits on the presidency, effectively making him China’s self-appointed forever-leader. Under Xi’s leadership of China since 2013, there have been a host of human rights violations that will only likely worsen in the next half decade unless confronted by human rights activists globally. Professor Darren Byler of Simon Fraser University said, “Over the course of his term in power, Xi Jinping has radically expanded the power of …

Between Islamophobia and homophobia: Life as an LGBTQ Uyghur in China

I had a friend who was a medical doctor. He was gay and he was Uyghur, like me. We knew he was HIV positive about a year ago, but he never took any antiviral drugs because he didn’t want his family to find out. Last month, very suddenly he got sick and died just like that — complications from AIDS. His family didn’t even know he was sick, so it was very sudden for them. It’s really sad. There are a lot of young boys, 17 or 18, on Blued. I don’t think any of them understand or know to use protection, and there are a lot of male prostitutes that don’t use protection either. Erkin told me this story one day when I was living in Xinjiang. The prevalence of HIV among gay men in China was the main reason he wanted to talk to me. “Erkin” is a common male Uyghur name that means “Freedom,” and is a pseudonym. When we spoke, it was 2017 and I was living in Xinjiang. He had …

Requiem For The ‘Living Dead’: Ten Years After 7/5

Like a frightened flock of sheep, the people’s erratic dreams dividing unbroken Heavenly Mountains: A borderland Great Wall, a natural Wailing Wall Those unrecognized souls are the mud and night of other souls Only the cries of dreams, the tears on faces, like an expression of the heart, need no translation. 像惊恐的羊群 人们时断时续的梦境 隔着一座绵延千里的天山: 一座边地长城,一堵大自然哭墙 那些不被认识的心灵 是另一些心灵的泥淖和长夜 只有梦中的呼救、脸上的泪痕 像内心的表情,毋须翻译 — Shen Wei, an excerpt from “Ürümchi: An Abandoned Bed” (my translation) in the poetry collection Requiem I first heard about the poem “Ürümchi: An Abandoned Bed” from a now-disappeared poet, Perhat Tursun, in 2015. We were sitting in his apartment high above Consul Street in Ürümchi, smoking cigarettes and chatting in Uyghur. He told me that the poem’s author, Shen Wei, was one of the only Han intellectuals he truly respected. He said, “He was the only one who actually acknowledged what really happened during Qi Wu.” Like most Uyghurs, Perhat code-switched when it came to talking about the period of time that surrounded July 5, 2009. It was always just Qī Wǔ (七五) — the Chinese words …