Chapter 1 contextualizes the book’s analysis in the longue duree history of Uyghur relations with modern China up to 2001. It describes this relationship as having emerged from imperial conquest in the mid-eighteenth century, when the Qing Dynasty conquered the Uyghurs’ homeland, and having developed under the shadow of colonial relations ever since. In particular, it charts the gradual transformation of this relationship as the Uyghur homeland slowly transitioned from being a frontier colony on the edges of Chinese power to the object of Chinese settler colonization. While this history includes moments of accommodation where the relationship between modern China and the Uyghurs appeared headed towards a post-colonial reality, these moments were always temporary and followed by the re-establishment of colonial domination. The chapter ends by suggesting that the Chinese state’s decision to brand Uyghurs as terrorists in the context of GWOT shut off these post-colonial possibilities entirely at a time when they held great potential for the future of relations between Uyghurs and modern China.
Chapter 4 explains that, despite the international claims of a Uyghur terrorist threat established in 2002, very few, if any, Uyghur-led premeditated acts of political violence took place inside the Uyghur homeland during the first decade of GWOT. As a result, China’s policies towards the Uyghurs and their homeland in the early 2000s were more focused on development of the Uyghur region than on combatting its virtually non-existent terrorist threat. This development also fostered a creeping settler colonialism in the Uyghur region, leading to large numbers of Han migrants to the region, facilitating displacement, and promoting Uyghur assimilation into a Han-dominated society. The chapter points to the 2009 Urumqi ethnic violence between Uyghurs and Han as the primary turning point in state policy towards Uyghurs. The state’s primary response to this violence was to expedite its development and colonization of the Uyghur region, but it also included the beginnings of a violent crackdown on pious Uyghurs, particularly in the south of the Uyghur region, initiating a self-perpetuating conflict between rural Uyghur populations and state security forces, which would escalate in coming years.
The conclusion examines the likely future outcomes of the processes of cultural genocide presently taking place in the Uyghur homeland by seeking to answer to three critical questions. How will the present crisis end? What are its ramifications for the future development of GWOT? And what can be done to stem the present processes of cultural genocide in the Uyghur homeland? While the conclusion seeks to hold the Chinese state accountable for its mass atrocities against the Uyghurs, it also places blame on the international community for facilitating this tragedy through its manipulation of GWOT. As such, the conclusion argues, among other things, for the necessity to end this war in order to prevent more genocidal outcomes like that suffered by the Uyghurs. The chapter ends with some thoughts about what the Uyghur cultural genocide tells us about the ominous direction in which the world is headed today.
Chapter 6 explains how the events of 2013–2016 laid the foundations for a campaign of cultural genocide that began in earnest from 2017. The chapter subsequently analyzes the brutality and invasiveness of this campaign itself, which is ongoing, is systematic, brutal, and ultimately aimed at eliminating Uyghur identity as we know it. In particular, the chapter focuses on a complex of policies that have driven this campaign, including the mass internment system, the pervasive surveillance network, and attempts to transform both the landscape of the Uyghur homeland and the lives and culture of Uyghur people. While the chapter highlights the state’s justification for these measures as a counterterrorism effort, it locates the true motivations for them in the state’s increasing settler colonization of the Uyghur homeland.
Chapter 2 examines the phenomenon of GWOT and its impact on the Uyghurs and their relationship to the Chinese state. The first half of the chapter recounts the process by which the PRC branded the Uyghurs as a global terrorist threat, beginning shortly after the declaration of GWOT in September 2001, and successfully obtained international recognition of this branding within a year of the war’s beginning. The second half of the chapter charts how this recognition of Uyghurs as a transnational terrorist threat was reified and maintained by the ‘counterterrorism industrial complex’ that developed around GWOT in the US and Europe after 2001. More generally, the chapter highlights how these processes created a flawed narrative about Uyghur terrorism, which was over-exaggerated and assisted in justifying China’s suppression of Uyghur domestic dissent with impunity from the international community.
The introduction provides an overview of the book’s overall argument that the state-led campaign to erase Uyghur identity in China is the outcome of both the Chinese state’s long-term colonization of the Uyghur homeland and its manipulation of the narrative of GWOT to brand the Uyghur people as terrorists. In addition, the introduction offers important background information on this argument, explaining who the Uyghurs are as a people, providing clarification of the book’s working definition of ‘terrorism,’ and discussing how GWOT has made the terrorist brand a vehicle for the ‘biopolitical’ dehumanization of entire population groups. Finally, it discusses the book’s methodology and its limitations, in addition to providing an outline of the book’s structure chapter by chapter.
Chapter 3 provides an alternative narrative about the Uyghur terrorist threat up to 2013, which is based on the author’s research. While utilizing many of the same sources as used by those contributing to the more commonplace narrative of this threat, it analyzes these sources differently by taking advantage of a deeper understanding of Uyghur history and culture, as well as drawing from interviews with individuals who have been accused of being involved in Uyghur terrorist groups and from extensive analysis of Uyghur-language jihadist videos produced by these groups. While acknowledging that we still do not know the full history of Uyghur jihadist groups, the chapter argues that this alternative narrative is likely closer to the truth than the one that has been cultivated by the Chinese state and subsequently propagated by western terrorism experts. Based on this alternative narrative, the chapter argues that the Uyghur terrorist threat to Chinese society from international terrorist networks was virtually non-existent up to 2013 and has remained minimal ever since.
Chapter 5 demonstrates how the first decade of China’s branding of Uyghurs as a terrorist threat had led to a self-fulfilling prophecy of Uyghur militancy both in China and abroad. This process was largely initiated by China’s labeling of Uyghurs as a ‘dangerous’ population following the 2009 Urumqi riots, but it was also reinforced by several acts of Uyghur-led violence in 2013–2014, which increasingly looked like actual terrorist attacks, in Beijing, Kunming, and Urumqi. As a result, the state increasingly targeted Uyghur cultural and religious behavior as signs of extremism, and many rural Uyghurs, especially in the south of the region, were subjected to constant pressure from authorities, elevating the conflict between rural Uyghurs and the police to an all-out war. This situation also led to a mass exodus of Uyghurs from China, leaving Turkey riddled with undocumented Uyghur refugees. It would be with these refugees that a nascent Uyghur extremist group in Syria would succeed in building an actual army of Uyghur militants, the first of its kind since the 1940s and a development that only intensified the state’s aggressive approach to Uyghurs inside China as a source of extremism and a terrorist threat.
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.
This chapter proposes a historical-genetic system, ascending from the abstract to the concrete, specific and conditioned by socio-spatial contradictions, of the forms and methods of exploitation of the worker by capital that are inherent in the global economy of the twenty-first century. From slave-like forms of personal dependence, the development of this system proceeds via the ‘classical’ forms of capitalist exploitation of the industrial worker, to the use of methods of generating and assigning monopolistic profits (as well as imperialist profits, based on the exploitation of the periphery), giving rise to significant new relationships of the exploitation of creative activity. The authors argue that the exploitation of the creative worker involves not merely the appropriation of surplus-value, but also the appropriation of universal cultural wealth. This result, associated as a rule not with a (creative) worker but with a subject of intellectual property (the corporation), has no value, but has a certain price. This situation allows the owner of a creative corporation to obtain so-called intellectual rent. On this basis, the authors demonstrate changes in the relationship of formal and real subordination by capital not only of the workforce, but also of the human individual, in particular of her or his free time. This study permits a constructive criticism of the categories of human and social ‘capital’, which in perverse form reflect real changes in the role of human beings and in their social relations within the modern economy.