Public talk by Ildikó Bellér-Hann & Rune Steenberg Reyhé, Dept. of Cross-Cultural and Regional Studies
While Xi Jinping’s massive transcontinental “Belt and Road Initiative” (also known as the New Silk Road) has received a great deal of academic and media coverage, much less attention has been paid to the plight of the 12 million strong Muslim populations native to the area most central to this development project. The diverse groups inhabiting the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region situated in China’s far northwest include the Turkic speaking Uyghur, Kazakh and Kyrgyz that have in recent years been increasingly subjected to various securitization policies, such as high-tech surveillance, house searches, re-education and arrests.
The talk by two researchers at ToRS actively working in and on the region will be of an informative rather than academic character. It will provide an insight into the current state of affairs in Xinjiang against a historical backdrop and address the extreme difficulties faced by local people in everyday life which, inevitably, also render research of all sorts nigh impossible. The talk focuses on Xinjiang and the PRC but it also invites a wider debate on modernization, surveillance, Islamophobia, academic freedom and ethical dilemmas surrounding research.