Asian Studies Seminar – Wednesday 22 January 2020

Date: Wednesday 22 January

Time: 4-6pm

Venue: Project Room (1.06), 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh

“Has PRC Counter-Terrorism in Xinjiang Evolved into State Terror?”

Abstract:

In this talk, I provide an overview of China’s programme of ‘de-extremification’ and extra-judicial mass internment of Turkic Muslims in Xinjiang since early 2017. I then situate this development against the ‘ideological turn’ in Chinese Communist Party policy under President Xi Jinping, highlighting the new emphasis on stability maintenance and ideational governance. Finally, I bring evidence of insecurity, fear and trauma in Uyghur communities in- and outside of Xinjiang in the era of internment to consider how far PRC counter-terrorism initiatives have now evolved into state terror. In doing so, I apply Ruth Blakeley’s (2012) definition of state terror as a deliberate act of violence against civilians, or threat of violence where a climate of fear is already established by earlier acts of violence; as perpetrated by actors on behalf of or in conjunction with the state; as intended to induce extreme fear in target observers who identify with the victim; and as forcing the target audience to consider changing its behaviour.

Biography: 
Joanne Smith Finley is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies in the School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University, UK. Her research interests include evolving Uyghur identities in Xinjiang, China; strategies of symbolic resistance in Xinjiang; the gendering of ethno-politics in Xinjiang; gender in Xinjiang and the Uyghur diaspora in the context of Islamic revival; and PRC counter-terrorism as state terror in the era of mass internment. Her monograph The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in Contemporary Xinjiang (Brill Academic Publishing) was published in 2013. This is an ethnographic study of evolving Uyghur identities and ethnic relations over a period of 20 years (from the 1991 collapse of the Soviet Union through the 1997 Ghulja disturbances and the 2009 Ürümchi riots to 2011). Dr Smith Finley is co-editor of two volumes: Situating the Uyghurs between China and Central Asia (Ashgate, 2007) and Language, Education and Uyghur Identity in Urban Xinjiang (Routledge, 2015), and Guest Editor of a Special Issue (2019) for Central Asian Survey, titled: ‘Securitization, Insecurity and Conflict in Contemporary Xinjiang’.

All Welcome! No booking required!

Upcoming Lecture:

“A Brief Cultural History of the Korean-Chinese Diaspora”

Date: Wednesday 29 January

Time: 4-6pm

Venue: Project Room (1.06), 50 George Square, University of Edinburgh

Abstract:

This presentation deals with the representation and changes in identity in the literature, music and movies of ethnic Koreans in China by looking at debates on diaspora and migrant cultural identity. This presentation looks at how the Korean-Chinese have represented and forged their identity throughout numerous historical and social changes in the second half of the 20th Century. Through a study of their literature, films and songs I will show that the strength of their cohesion is not based solely on holding on to an essentialized ethnic identity, but is mainly thanks to a high adaptability to reshape their identity at various stages in their history. I will shows that the fast-changing pace of historical and social processes found in Korean-Chinese society makes it difficult to get a clear definition of the Korean-Chinese possessing diaspora or migrant identity features, as their cultural expressions clearly show a mix between diaspora, migration and transnational identity simultaneously.