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Power on hold
Author: Lea Bou Khater

The labour movement in Lebanon narrates the history of the Lebanese labour movement from the early twentieth century to today. Trade unionism has largely been a failure, because of state interference, tactical co-optation and the strategic use of sectarianism by an oligarchic elite, together with the structural weakness of a service-based laissez-faire economy. The Lebanese case study holds wider significance for the Arab world and for comparative studies of labour. Bou Khater’s conclusions are significant not only for trade unionism, but also for new forms of workers’ organisations and social movements. The failure of trade unions reveals a great deal about Lebanon’s current political moment and how it got there, but also how events are set to affect future movements. The book challenges the perceived wisdom on the rise of the labour movement in the 1950s and 1960s and its subsequent fall during the post-war period from the 1990s onwards. What is perceived as a fall after the end of the civil war was merely the intensification of liberal economic policies and escalating political intervention, which had already been in place since independence in 1943. Hiding under the guise of preserving sectarian balances, the post-war elite incorporated the labour movement into the state to guarantee their command of the hollowed-out state. Beyond controlling the labour movement to avoid a challenge to the system, the post-war period was characterised by political forces, using the General Confederation of Workers in Lebanon (GCWL) as an instrument in their disputes over power, rents and benefits.

Lea Bou Khater

Amid the protracted paralysis of the GCWL, the labour movement in Lebanon showed signs of revival in 2011 with a ground-breaking mobilisation of public-sector employees who rallied under the Union Coordination Committee (UCC) to demand a wage adjustment. In light of the poor results of the private-sector trade unions, how can the public sector’s resilience and effective mobilisation be explained? And to what extent did sectarian affiliations impact the functioning and performance of the UCC? This chapter first examines the obstacles to public-sector mobilisation plus the UCC’s structural resilience to help better understand its actions and extensive mobilisation. The second part of the chapter focuses on the main features of the UCC’s mobilisation, notably the relationship between the UCC and the Government.

in The labour movement in Lebanon
Lea Bou Khater

This first chapter documents state–labour relations throughout key periods between independence in 1943 and the end of the civil war in 1990. This chapter starts with the birth of the workers' movement and the first associations under the Ottoman Empire and reviews the restrictions under the French mandate. It examines the labour movement after independence, including the struggle for the Labour Code, the emergence of union federations and the establishment of the General Confederation of Workers in Lebanon (GWCL), and discusses its main demands before the outbreak of the civil war in 1975. The chapter also considers the mobilisation and protests of the labour movement during the civil war and its role advocating for peace.

in The labour movement in Lebanon
A content analysis of the Uyghur primary school textbook Til Ädäbiyat
Dilmurat Mahmut and Joanne Smith Finley

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.

in The Xinjiang emergency
Repression in the Uyghur region now and then
Sandrine Catris

While many have seen echoes of the Cultural Revolution (1966–76) in the repression in today’s Xinjiang, this chapter argues that the more apt analogy to understand today’s campaign, and imagine an end to it, can be found in a better understanding of the 1957 Anti-Rightist Campaign of 1957. The chapter demonstrates that there are three critical parallels with the Anti-Rightist Campaign. First, the Anti-Rightist Campaign was, just like today’s, completely controlled by the party and the government. Second, ethnicity clearly played a major role in the implementation of the Anti-Rightist Campaign in Xinjiang, morphing into a campaign against ‘local nationalism’ that primarily targeted Uyghur cadres and intellectuals. Today, too, Uyghur elites have been targeted for repression with over four hundred Uyghur intellectuals, artists, and businesspeople having been arrested and taken to camps and prisons, accused of being ‘two-faced’ and fomenting separatist ideas. Finally, after the ‘anti-local nationalism’ campaign in Xinjiang ended, the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) did not have to disavow its actions despite its disastrous consequences. The chapter concludes that a similar outcome may in fact take place with respect to the ‘re-education’ campaign in contemporary Xinjiang: once the current leadership of the CCP concludes that ‘re-education’ has served its purposes there is little to suggest that it will face the consequences of even a symbolic reckoning with the injustices imposed on the Uyghur people.

in The Xinjiang emergency
Ablimit Baki Elterish

This chapter examines the effect of the mass repression in Xinjiang on the Uyghur diaspora. It begins by noting that since 2016, thousands of Uyghurs living outside China have gradually been unable to make contact with their families, relatives, and friends back in Xinjiang. The chapter argues that this prolonged loss of communication has created tremendous effects on everyday life of Uyghur diaspora communities. Drawing upon the theory of collective trauma, the chapter provides an investigation of three dimensions of collective trauma: psychological, family, and social. The data used for this study come from semi-structured interviews with individuals selected from the Uyghur diaspora communities living in Turkey, Canada, the US, Australia, and Europe.

in The Xinjiang emergency
Colonialism and settler colonialism as pathways to cultural genocide?
Michael Clarke

This chapter undertakes two major tasks. First, it attempts to provide a conceptual entry-point into exploring the Xinjiang emergency. It does so by arguing that the trajectory of the party-state’s governance of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) has been profoundly shaped by dynamics of colonialism, settler colonialism, and associated state-building that have provided the bases for a transition towards cultural genocide in the XUAR as a means of resolving China’s ‘Xinjiang problem’. Second, the chapter then provides an overview of the structure of and individual contributions to this volume.

in The Xinjiang emergency
Social engineering, ‘a rebirth of the nation’, and a significant building block in China’s creeping genocide
Anna Hayes

This chapter, through an examination of the destruction of Old Kashgar via the Kashgar Dangerous House Reform Programme (KDHRP), demonstrates the ‘creeping’ nature of cultural genocide in Xinjiang. It argues that the KDHRP was undergirded by desires of social control and social engineering aimed at perceived ‘deviant’ Uyghurs, with the ultimate goal being the purposeful destruction and eradication of Uyghur culture in the Uyghur heartland. Moreover, some of the measures taken under the KDHRP in fact paved the way for the increased surveillance, social control, and the mass incarceration of Uyghurs that has escalated under the presidency of Xi Jinping and the regional leadership of Chen Quanguo. The chapter concludes that the KDHRP can be seen as a building block within a pattern of social engineering across the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) that amounts to creeping genocide through its consistent deployment of dehumanizing collective labels such as being ‘backwards’ and a ‘terrorist collective’ to the Uyghur population.

in The Xinjiang emergency
Timothy A. Grose and James Leibold

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).

in The Xinjiang emergency
Organ harvesting and other means of monetizing Uyghur ‘surplus’
Matthew P. Robertson

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.

in The Xinjiang emergency