Pathology, inducement, and mass incarcerations of Xinjiang’s ‘targeted population’
in The Xinjiang emergency
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This chapter provides an examination of the centrality of themes of ‘pathology’ and ‘deviancy’ in the party-state’s discourse of ‘re-education’ in Xinjiang. It demonstrates that while ‘re-education’ facilities have been justified by the Chinese state as necessary ‘counterterrorism’ measures and analogized to ‘boarding schools’, this is belied by the highly securitized nature of such facilities and the known practices undertaken within them. The chapter makes three major arguments here: the ‘re-education’ centres – contra Chinese government claims – have been established to forcefully and permanently erase meaningful cultural markers (including Islam and native language) from Turkic Muslims; the lexicon of ‘pathology’ has been deployed to justify the state’s efforts to ‘save’ Turkic Muslims by ‘quarantining’ them from their communities and ‘reprogramming’ them; and the current repression in Xinjiang lumps an entire ethno-religious group into the same sociopolitical and criminal category as individuals convicted of violent crime, drug addicts, political activists, and mental health patients. The chapter concludes that the pathologizing of Turkic Muslim identity enables the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) to simultaneously justify repression (i.e. provide a cure), apply this repression to large segments of society (i.e. treat an outbreak), and deflect blame from its own policies (i.e. offer an index case to an epidemiology that originates outside China).

The Xinjiang emergency

Exploring the causes and consequences of China’s mass detention of Uyghurs

Editor: Michael Clarke

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