RSIS Seminar Series on Muslim Societies in Asia by Dr Joanne Smith Finley, Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies, School of Modern Languages, Newcastle University, United Kingdom
An Avoidable Tragedy: State Securitisation of Religion, Societal Insecurity and Inter-Ethnic Conflict in Xinjiang Today
This seminar examines the relationship between Chinese state authorities and the Uyghur ethnic group in the Xinjiang autonomous region. Han Chinese in-migration, competition for resources and employment, religious restrictions, repressive crackdowns and a securitization strategy put in place to counteract Islamic radicalisation have led to increased ethnic tension. This resulted in the securitization of religion, which involves the introduction of increasingly intrusive religious policing. I contend that the Chinese state’s apparent decision to make war on Islam per se has had the opposite effect to that intended: heightening societal insecurity in Uyghur communities, strengthening the Islamic revival in the region, and provoking wholly unnecessary inter-ethnic hatred and conflict.
About The Speaker
Joanne Smith Finley is Senior Lecturer in Chinese Studies at Newcastle University, United Kingdom. Her research interests include the formation, transformation, hybridisation and globalisation of identities among the Uyghurs of Xinjiang, NW China; strategies of symbolic resistance in Xinjiang; alternative representations of Uyghur identities in popular song/culture; the gendering of ethnopolitics in the hostess industry in Xinjiang; continuity and change in gender roles among Uyghurs in urban Xinjiang (involving the socio-cultural analysis of gendered Uyghur proverbs); and potential connections between newly emerging ideologies of animal rights and the sense of social/civic responsibility in contemporary urban China. In 2013, her monograph The Art of Symbolic Resistance: Uyghur Identities and Uyghur-Han Relations in Contemporary Xinjiang was published by Brill (Leiden).