Headshots of Darren Byler and Guldana Salimjan

In a recent interview with Simon Fraser University, Darren Byler F’21, G’14 and Guldana Salimjan F’22 share their experience creating the Xinjiang Documentation Project (XDP). The Xinjiang Documentation Project is a multi-disciplinary research project that collects, preserves, assesses, and makes available information on the extrajudicial detention of Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and other ethnic groups in Xinjiang, China. It is based at the University of British Columbia and Simon Fraser University and involves researchers and students from across China and North America.

“The goals of this project are twofold,” Byler said. “First, we want to document how state crimes have been committed in order to hold state and corporate actors accountable. Second, drawing on our commitment to global decolonization, we hope the project can be used in ongoing and future truth and reconciliation processes.”

Byler and Salimjan were both awarded fellowships through the Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies for research projects on this region and area of study. In 2022, Salimjan was awarded a Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowship in China Studies for her project “State of Dispossession: Voices of Belonging & the Colonial Politics of Land in Pastoral Xinjiang.” Byler was awarded a 2021 Luce/ACLS Early Career Fellowship in China Studies for “Thinking with Violence: Narratives of Reeducation Camps & Infrastructural State Power in Northwest China,” as well as a 2014 Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies Predissertation-Summer Travel Grant.

Ultimately, our goal is to uplift the voices of survivors and community members working to shed light on this crisis and to create a reliable resource to combat state-sponsored erasure of evidence and partisan presentation of events in Xinjiang. Xinjiang Documentation Project website

Since 2017, the government of China has interned Uyghurs, Kazakhs and members of other Muslim groups indigenous to the Xinjiang region in northwest China. The Xinjiang Documentation Project provides a reading guide about recent developments, experts’ explanations, as well as an understanding of what ethnic Uyghurs and Kazakhs experience on a daily basis. It integrates research methods from social science, humanities, and other disciplines for the documentation and analysis of the on-the-ground situation.

Read the full article from Simon Fraser University. The project is also featured in an open-access article in Education about Asia, which includes information on how to use it in the classroom.

Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies

The Luce/ACLS Program in China Studies aims to promote and sustain excellence in research on China, its languages, cultures, and communities, to encourage the publication of new knowledge, and to inform public understanding of China, with a special emphasis on early career scholars and the strengthening of scholarly networks within China Studies. The 2023-2024 fellowship and grant competitions will begin accepting applications in August.

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