Turkic Muslim camp workers, subjection, and active witnessing
in The Xinjiang emergency
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This chapter, drawing on interviews with former detainees and their relatives, with a special focus on in-depth interviews with a former police contractor and camp instructor, demonstrates how the re-education system has turned Uyghurs and Kazakhs against themselves, making them the human intelligence janitors and interpreters of a colonial system. The chapter finds that because of the ethno-racial devaluation of the social position of Uyghur and Kazakh police contractors, such actors are compelled to work in service of a system of enclosure even as it forecloses other life-paths for them. This outsourced task, the chapter suggests, both normalizes the dehumanization of other Turkic Muslims and confronts Turkic Muslim contractors with a dehumanized mirroring of their own Turkic Muslim identifications. The chapter concludes that as a system of subjectification, the re-education process pushes deep forms of trauma onto those who are forced to ‘collaborate’ with the processes they enact and observe, resulting in an ‘active witnessing’ of the suffering of Turkic Muslim detainees.

The Xinjiang emergency

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

Editor: Michael Clarke


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