The term ‘culturalgenocide’ is generally attributed to the Polish
lawyer who coined the overall concept of ‘genocide’ in the 1940s,
Raphael Lemkin. Lemkin viewed genocide as more than the mass
killing of people from a given group; he defined the term as ‘the
destruction of a nation or of an ethnic group.’1 In discussing how
this destruction takes place, he notes that it is rarely accomplished
through the ‘immediate destruction’ of the group, which would connote the mass murder of its members. Instead, it is almost always
A content analysis of the Uyghur primary school textbook Til Ädäbiyat
Dilmurat Mahmut and Joanne Smith Finley
Uyghur religious and cultural identity. Looking through Lemkin's ([ 1944] 2005 ) lens, this is no less than genocide, because destroying the ‘essential foundations of the life’ of Uyghurs will ultimately end the existence of Uyghurs as a nation. The most recent reports about forced mass sterilizations and abortions among Uyghur women only confirm that the Han-majoritarian state has determined to speed up the earlier process of ‘culturalgenocide’, which it may have deemed too slow.
This book explores the reasons and justifications for the Chinese state’s campaign to erase Uyghur identity, focusing, in particular, on how China’s manipulation of the US-led Global War on Terror (GWOT) has facilitated this cultural genocide. It is the first book to address this issue in depth, and serves as an important rebuttal to Chinese state claims that this campaign is a benign effort to combat an existential extremist threat. While the book suggests that the motivation for this state-led campaign is primarily China’s gradual settler colonization of the Uyghur homeland, the text focuses on the narrative of the Uyghur terrorist threat that has provided international cover and justification for the campaign and has shaped its ‘biopolitical’ nature. It describes how the People’s Republic of China (PRC) was able to successfully implicate Uyghurs in GWOT and, despite a lack of evidence, brand them internationally as a serious terrorist threat within the first year of the war. In recounting these developments, the book offers a critique of existing literature on the Uyghur terrorist threat and questions the extent of this threat to the PRC. Finding no evidence for the existence of such a threat when the Chinese state first declared its existence in 2001, the book argues that a nominal Uyghur militant threat only emerged after over a decade of PRC suppression of Uyghur dissent in the name of counterterrorism, facilitating a ‘self-fulfilling prophecy’ that has served to justify further state repression and ultimately cultural genocide.
The Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) is the site of the largest mass repression of an ethnic and/or religious minority in the world today. Researchers estimate that since 2016 one million people have been detained there without trial. In the detention centres individuals are exposed to deeply invasive forms of surveillance and psychological stress, while outside them more than ten million Turkic Muslim minorities are subjected to a network of hi-tech surveillance systems, checkpoints, and interpersonal monitoring. Existing reportage and commentary on the crisis tends to address these issues in isolation, but this groundbreaking volume brings them together, exploring the interconnections between the core strands of the Xinjiang emergency in order to generate a more accurate understanding of the mass detentions’ significance for the future of President Xi Jinping’s China.
What is happening to the Uyghurs inside China is a blatant act of
culturalgenocide and a human tragedy. It is neither the first of its
kind in history nor perhaps even the worst of the human tragedies
that have occurred thus far in the twenty-first century. However,
it is a tragedy of global proportions that begs for a global response.
In concluding this book’s account of how this tragedy has unfolded
through a combination of colonialism and ‘counterterrorism,’ which
together have amounted to a full-out state-led war on the Uyghurs, I
will try to
I refer to the Chinese government's repressive actions since 2017 against the Uyghurs and other indigenous peoples in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region (XUAR) as ‘culturalgenocide’. I use this term as it appears in academic literature to describe the destruction of indigenous people in the context of settler colonialism (Davidson 2012 ; Altman 2018 ; Luck 2020 ). It is a term that is as much about territory as it is about people since its goal is to sever a deep bond between a given people and a territory, usually with the aim of
Colonialism and settler colonialism as pathways to cultural genocide?
-point into exploring the Xinjiang emergency. It does so by arguing that the trajectory of the party-state's governance of the XUAR has been profoundly shaped by dynamics of colonialism, settler colonialism, and associated state-building that have provided the bases for a transition towards culturalgenocide 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.
Xinjiang: Colonial past, settler colonial present
Social engineering, ‘a rebirth of the nation’, and a significant building block in China’s creeping genocide
amounts to creeping genocide.
The genocidal process
Davidson defined culturalgenocide as seeking the withering away or severe impairment of the enemy culture. He argued that culturalgenocide is evident in the ‘purposeful destructive targeting of out-group cultures so as to destroy or weaken them in the process of conquest or domination’ (Davidson 2012 : 1). He linked culturalgenocide to the phenomenon of natural localness, that is
columnists in the largest Irish newspapers regularly vilify Muslims, Roma and Travellers, particularly drawing on ideas of barbarism, culturalgenocide and population control, and defiantly testing the legal limits of incitement to hatred. However, changes in Irish media have been evident since 2008, with a growth (if slow) of ethnic minority and migrant representation in media, an increasing diversity of voices (although still predominantly in the community broadcasting sector) and even, since 2014, critical coverage of the Direct Provision system. Comparison with UK news
WAR ON THE UYGHURS
around 1 million, with some suggesting that it could be closer to
2 million.5 These camps’ ethnic and religious profiling of Uyghurs
and other indigenous Turkic groups has raised fears that the world is
witnessing the preamble to yet another genocide.
While the use of the term ‘genocide’ to describe what is happening
to the Uyghurs inside the XUAR, like any use of this word, is controversial, with time it has become clear that the PRC is at the very
least committing acts of ‘culturalgenocide’ against the Uyghurs. In
effect, the Chinese state