Xinjiang’s Muslims and the PRC

Panel Discussion


Gardner Bovingdon,
Associate Professor, Central Eurasian Studies, Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies, Indiana University

Darren Byler,
Post-Doctoral Lecturer, Department of Anthropology, University of Washington

James Millward,
Professor of Inter-societal History, Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University

Thomas Mullaney (Moderator),
Professor of Chinese History, Stanford University

Lauren Hansen Restrepo,
Assistant Professor in Growth and Structure of Cities, Bryn Mawr College

Date and Time

October 24, 2019 3:45 PM - 5:15 PM


Philippines Conference Room
616 Jane Stanford Way
Encina Hall, Central, 3rd Floor
Stanford, CA 94305


Sponsored by Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center and Center on Democracy, Development and the Rule of Law



Registration required for admission.  No walk-ins.

No audio, video recording or photography will be permitted.  

News regarding increasing numbers of camps and detention facilities in Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in northwest China have grabbed the headlines since mid-2017. China’s deployment of high-tech surveillance and police tactics have spread throughout the region, and approximately ten million Muslim minorities in the region are under tight, top-down control. Over one million Uyghurs and other Turkic Muslims have allegedly disappeared into these internment camps, which the Chinese government and media characterize as vocational training centers. Although Beijing has recently claimed that most of the detainees have been released, evidence for this is still difficult to verify. Information dissemination regarding the region to the outside world has been closely guarded.

To gain a better understanding of what is happening in Xinjiang, a panel of experts from various scholarly disciplines will analyze the current crisis and, as importantly, do what academics do best -- provide historical context and critical social scientific analysis that broaden and deepen our understanding of the events unfolding in that region. 


Gardner Bovingdon is Associate Professor of Central Eurasian Studies at the Hamilton Lugar School of Global and International Studies at Indiana University. Bovingdon researches politics in contemporary Xinjiang as well as Xinjiang’s modern history. He is also an expert in historiography in China, as well as nationalism and ethnic conflict. He is the author of The Uyghurs: Strangers in Their Own Land (Columbia University Press, 2010); “Politics in Modern Xinjiang,” in Introduction to the Politics of China, ed. William Joseph (Oxford University Press, 2010); and “CCP Policies and Popular Responses in Xinjiang, 1949 to the present,” in Governing China’s Multiethnic Frontiers, ed. Morris Rossabi (University of Washington Press, 2004), among others.


Darren Byler received his Ph.D. from the Department of Anthropology at the University of Washington in 2018. His research focuses on Uyghur dispossession, culture work and "terror capitalism" in the city of Ürümchi, the capital of Xinjiang. He has published research articles in the Asia-Pacific Journal, Contemporary Islam, Central Asian Survey, the Journal of Chinese Contemporary Art and contributed essays to volumes on ethnography of Islam in China, transnational Chinese cinema and travel and representation. He has provided expert testimony on Uyghur human rights issues before the Canadian House of Commons and writes a regular column on these issues for SupChina. In addition, he has published Uyghur-English literary translations (with Mutellip Enwer) in Guernica and Paper Republic. He also writes and curates the digital humanities art and politics repository The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia, which is hosted at


James Millward is Professor of Inter-societal History at the Walsh School of Foreign Service, Georgetown University, teaching Chinese, Central Asian and world history. He is also an affiliated professor in the Máster Oficial en Estudios de Asia Oriental at the University of Granada, Spain. His specialties include Qing empire; the silk road; Eurasian lutes and music in history; and historical and contemporary Xinjiang. He follows and comments on current issues regarding the Uyghurs and PRC ethnicity policy.  Millward has served on the boards of the Association for Asian Studies (China and Inner Asia Council) and the Central Eurasian Studies Society, and was president of the Central Eurasian Studies Society in 2010. He edits the ''Silk Roads'' series for University of Chicago Press. His publications include The Silk Road: A Very Short Introduction (2013), Eurasian Crossroads: A History of Xinjiang (2007), New Qing Imperial History: The Making of Inner Asian Empire at Qing Chengde (2004), and Beyond the Pass: Economy, Ethnicity and Empire in Qing Central Asia (1998).  His articles and op-eds on contemporary China appear in The New York Times, The Los Angeles Review of Books, The New York Review of Books and other media.  


Thomas Mullaney is Professor of Chinese History at Stanford University, and Curator of the international exhibition, "Radical Machines: Chinese in the Information Age."  He is the author of The Chinese Typewriter: A History (MIT Press 2017), Coming to Terms with the Nation: Ethnic Classification in Modern China (UC Press, 2010), and principal editor of Critical Han Studies: The History, Representation and Identity of China’s Majority (UC Press, 2011). His writings have appeared in the Journal of Asian Studies, Technology & Culture, Aeon, Foreign Affairs, and Foreign Policy, and his work has been featured in the LA Times, The Atlantic, the BBC, and in invited lectures at Google, Microsoft, Adobe, and more. He holds a Ph.D. from Columbia University.


Lauren Hansen Restrepo is Assistant Professor in Growth and Structure of Cities at Bryn Mawr College. She focuses on Chinese development planning and urbanization in Xinjiang, changes within urban Uyghur society, and state-society relations in Xinjiang’s cities. She also works on issues more broadly related to urban and economic development in conflict areas; urbanization in minority-majority regions; housing and slum upgrading; Chinese city planning; cross-border economic and development planning in Western China and Central Asia; development planning and practice in authoritarian states; gender and development.  Her book manuscript, Chinese Construction at the New Frontier: The Government of Uyghur Identity in Urban Xinjiang, combines ethnographic research with historical and policy analysis to assess the relationship between urban development, social control, and identity politics among upwardly mobile Uyghurs in Urumqi, the capital of Xinjiang.

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