Predatory biopolitics
Organ harvesting and other means of monetizing Uyghur ‘surplus’
in The Xinjiang emergency
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This chapter provides an analysis of the potential links between the Chinese Communist Party’s (CCP) mass incarceration and re-education of Uyghurs with a growing literature on state predation through organ harvesting. It attempts to theorize the political logic of organ harvesting from vulnerable, primarily prison, populations in China, and then reviews the evidence that Uyghur Muslims are now victims of this activity. The chapter adopts a biopolitical approach as the most effective lens through which to see the Chinese state’s relationship to the bodies of its subjects as this theoretical approach reveals the internal logic of coercive organ procurement in the context of large-scale political violence and the hyper-marketization of contemporary China. The chapter argues that organ harvesting can be located firmly within two dominant logics and stages of the CCP’s ruling legacy: revolutionary governance and what some scholars have termed ‘gangster capitalism’. Through these two dominant logics the state has turned its subjects into commodities and given the state’s adoption of an instrumental logic towards Uyghur bodies, whether by expropriation of the migrant labour force, settler colonialism, and forced intermarriages, it is plausible that Uyghur organs may now too have become commodities. The chapter concludes that there is thus an exploitative biopolitical logic that sustains organ harvesting that resonates with Karl Marx’s de-fetishizing critique of capitalism – i.e. that while it is the apparently natural character of the commodity form that obscures the forces that created it, it seems that it is the unnatural character of organ harvesting that conceals its cold rationality.

The Xinjiang emergency

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

Editor: Michael Clarke


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