Entitled People, Place, Race, and Nation in Xinjiang, China: Territories of Identity (Palgrave MacMillan, 2022), David O’Brien and Melissa Shani Brown’s new book focuses upon the ways in which ethnic difference is writ through the banalities of everyday life: who one trusts, what one eats, where one shops, even what time one’s clocks are set to (Xinjiang being perhaps one of the only places where different ethnic groups live by different time-zones).
In this episode, Julie Yu-Wen Chen talk to David O’Brien and Melissa Shani Brown who are both working at Ruhr University Bochum in Germany now. The conversation unpacks how discourses of Chinese nationalism romanticise empire and promote racialised ways of thinking about Chineseness, how cultural assimilation (‘Sinicisation’) is being justified through the rhetoric of ‘modernisation’, how Islamic sites and Uyghur culture are being secularised and commodified for tourist consumption.
Julie Yu-Wen Chen is Professor of Chinese Studies at the Department of Cultures at the University of Helsinki (Finland). Dr. Chen serves as one of the editors of the Journal of Chinese Political Science (Springer, SSCI). Formerly, she was chair of Nordic Association of China Studies (NACS) and Editor-in-Chief of Asian Ethnicity (Taylor & Francis). You can find her on University of Helsinki Chinese Studies’ website, Youtube and Facebook, and her personal Twitter.
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