Sean R. Roberts

Mar 24, 2021

The War on the Uyghurs

China's Internal Campaign Against a Muslim Minority

Princeton University Press 2020

There are currently eleven million Uyghurs living in China, but more than one million are being held in so-called reeducation camps. A cultural genocide is taking place under the guise of counterterrorism. 

In this profound and explosive book, Sean Roberts shows how China is using the US-led global war on terror to erase and replace Uyghur culture and persecute this ethnic minority in what has become the largest program of mass detention and surveillance in the world. In The War on the Uyghurs: China's Internal Campaign Against a Muslim Minority (Princeton UP, 2020) Roberts contextualises these harms in the PRC's colonial legacy of the region. He demonstrates how the Chinese government was able to brand Uyghur dissent as a dangerous terrorist threat which had links with al-Qaeda. He argues that a nominal militant threat was a 'self-fulfilling prophecy'; the limited response to more than a decade of harsh repression and surveillance. 

This is the humanitarian catastrophe that the world needs to know about now. Beyond the destruction of Uyghur identity and culture, there are profound implications for the global community by this cultural genocide. 

Dr. Sean R. Roberts is an Associate Professor of the Practice of International Affairs; Director, International Development Studies Program at the Elliot School of International Affairs, George Washington University.

He is is a cultural anthropologist with extensive applied experience in international development work. Roberts conducted ethnographic fieldwork among the Uyghur people of Central Asia and China during the 1990s, and has published extensively on this community in scholarly journals and collected volumes. In 1996 he produced a documentary film on the community entitled Waiting for Uighurstan. You can find him on twitter at @robertsreport 

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