Corrective ‘re-education’ as (cultural) genocide
A content analysis of the Uyghur primary school textbook Til Ädäbiyat
in The Xinjiang emergency
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This chapter explores the manner in which the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) turn towards coercive mass re-education has reconstructed the Uyghur body, mind, language, religion, and culture as an existential and biological threat to the Chinese nation that is in need of ‘correction’. The chapter demonstrates this through an in-depth case study of the Uyghur literature textbook compiler Yalqun Rozi, who was arrested in 2016 at the age of fifty and later sentenced to fifteen years in prison on charges of ‘incitement to subvert state power’, and the subsequent revision of the children’s Uyghur-language textbook Til-Ädäbiyat. The chapter argues here that these textbooks were produced in revised form in order to better assimilate Uyghur children into Han Chinese culture and the national polity through transposing and adapting from the corresponding set of Chinese-language textbooks which are highly Han-centric. Although certain Uyghur-specific elements can be found in practice drills, such as Uyghur personal names, place names, idioms, and proverbs, these lack Islamic associations and are insufficient for Uyghur pupils to build a positive and strong self-conception about their own ethnic group. The chapter argues that the new textbooks ‘invisibilize’ Uyghurs within the local education system. This ‘invisibilization’ of Uyghurs in school textbooks mirrors the coercive forms of ‘corrective re-education’ taking place in the re-education centres for adults. The chapter concludes that these revised textbooks further expose the ultimate aim of the government’s two-decade-old ‘War on Terror’ rhetoric in Xinjiang to fully erase Uyghur cultural identity – in this case by negating one central means of reproducing Uyghur culture, Uyghur language.

The Xinjiang emergency

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

Editor: Michael Clarke

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