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Project Team

Slavs and Tatars is an internationally-renowned art collective devoted to an area east of the former Berlin Wall and west of the Great Wall of China known as Eurasia. Their work has been the subject of solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, NY; Salt, Istanbul; Vienna Secession, Kunsthalle Zurich, Albertinum Dresden and Ujazdowski Centre for Contemporary Art Warsaw, among others. The collective’s practice is based on three activities: exhibitions, publications and lecture-performances. In addition to their translation of the legendary Azerbaijani satirical periodical Molla Nasreddin (currently in its 2nd edition with I.B Tauris), Slavs and Tatars have published ten books to date, most recently Wripped Scripped (Hatje Cantz, 2018) on the politics of alphabets and transliteration. Their work is currently on view at the 58th Venice Biennale: May You Live in Interesting Times.

Hurford Center for the Arts and Humanities

The John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities provides a place for inclusive and interdisciplinary programming by promoting collaborative engagement with the intellectual and artistic ambitions of Haverford College and broader communities.

Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery

An integral part of the John B. Hurford ’60 Center for the Arts and Humanities, the Cantor Fitzgerald Gallery (CFG) is the principal venue for the Haverford College Exhibitions Program. Envisioning exhibition spaces as active workshops for the exploration of visual culture, the Exhibitions Program partners with faculty, students, staff, and visiting curators to design exhibitions that connect curricular interests and scholarship with contemporary artistic practice. In doing so, the Exhibitions Program encourages intellectual inquiry and artistic innovation in the Haverford community and greater Philadelphia region.

CAIR Philadelphia

CAIR-Philadelphia is civil rights and advocacy organization focused on delivering key legal services and protection for Pennsylvania and Delaware Muslims; advocating for better inclusion and equity for Muslims in public life; engaging in youth empowerment; advancing a nuanced understanding of Islam and Muslim communities, and promoting innovative interfaith and cross-cultural collaboration.

Twelve Gates Arts

Twelve Gates Arts (12G) is a non profit (501(c)(3) organization strives to enrich and engage the Philadelphia community through the art and culture of SouthAsia. Through a unique and thought-provoking atmosphere, Twelve Gates Arts aims to showcase international multidisciplinary arts bound by the sensibilities of a diasporic identity, especially the South Asian identity, and to create and promote projects in the community that cross geographic and cultural boundaries

witty gritty

Witty Gritty creates purpose-driven experiences. We showcase and connect our clients through engagement and experiences. Using creativity and connection to ignite change, Witty Gritty breaks down barriers to develop authentic and meaningful collaborations. We believe civic engagement is the key to equitable and stronger communities and neighborhoods.

People first and neighborhood-focused. We take extra care in our outreach approach, using tools both online and offline to reach audiences and communities, meeting them where they are at. We create opportunities and experiences to bring communities together and strive to connect people with resources and each other.

Guangtian Ha

Guangtian Ha is a professor of religion at Haverford College. He works on Islamic mysticism in Asia and beyond, sound and smell, ashes and other remains of civilization, and in general what it means to survive in a world that is no more and how we can imagine and live differently. His interest in satire and humour and their role in building community and politics fits into this general picture. His book Fragile Transcendence: Sound and Saint in Sino-Sufism will be out from Columbia University Press in 2021.

Pia Chakraverti-Wuerthwein

Pia Chakraverti-Wuerthwein is a curator and researcher living and working in Berlin. She graduated in 2016 from Haverford College, with a Bachelor of Arts in Spanish and History of Art. Since 2016 she has been part of SAVVY Contemporary, mostly curating film. In addition to her work at SAVVY, she has worked as a curatorial advisor to Sinema Kundura in Istanbul, Turkey and is currently part of the CuratorLab 2019 post-graduate program at Konstfack University in Stockholm, Sweden. In July she will release the book how does the world breathe now: Film as witness, archive, and political tool, which she co-edited with Eirini Fountedaki. For The Contest of the Fruits Pia acts as the hinge between Slavs and Tatars in Berlin and the development of the project in Philadelphia.

Florie Hutchinson

Florie Hutchinson is an independent San Francisco-based media relations strategist specializing in the fields of contemporary art and cultural advocacy. A seasoned communications expert, Florie is driven by a greater purpose in arts advocacy: to champion the intrinsic value in artistic pursuits and its potential legacy to shape culture; to help inform and educate future generations of arts and design enthusiasts through compelling storytelling; to elevate the position of the arts in broader contemporary conversations; and to champion and advance the efforts of bold cultural producers. Florie is a tireless champion, ally, advocate and trusted advisor to both emerging and established creatives. She has worked with Stanford University’s Cantor Arts Center, the University of Chicago’s Smart Museum of Art, the San Francisco Arts Commission, the Institute for Contemporary Art San Jose, the Minnesota Street Project, the FOR-SITE Foundation, Pace Gallery, Sam Contis, Fanny Singer, and Altman Siegel Gallery among others.


Justin “JG” Geller is a Philadelphia-based sound and lighting technical designer and creative technical consultant. He also writes and produces original music and sound-based art for film, video, outdoor installations, and commercial releases. Notable recent sound design projects include Emeka Ogboh’s “Ama The Gathering” (Cleveland Museum of Art) and LOS RAK (Dada Gallery – Marrakech, Morocco), Jenny Sabin’s “The Beacon” (Jefferson University), and Fetter & Air with the Mendelssohn Choir (The Rail Park, Philadelphia). Recent lighting projects with Klip Collective include “End Of Line” a 50-foot long walkway bridge lined with a video mapped lighting grid consisting of over 16,000 individual LEDs and “Light Box” a four-story light installation at the 1501 Arch Building in Philadelphia. Most recently, he was the technical light and audio designer for Klip’s “Night Forms: dreamloop” at Grounds for Sculpture in Hamilton, NJ. Geller is also the Music and Sound Project Specialist for Monument Lab, a public art and history initiative.


Iskandar Ding is a London-based linguist and translator. He holds a BA in French and Linguistics from the University of Oxford and an MA in Iranian Studies from SOAS University of London. He blogs about Persianate and Indo-European linguistic legacy in different languages on his personal blog as well as Persian language and literature for the website Persian Language Online supported by the Iran Heritage Foundation.

Lutto Lento

Lubomir Grzelak (aka Lutto Lento) is a sound artist, producer, DJ and co-owner of DUNNO Recordings, based in Warsaw, Poland. He is inspired in equal measure by post-war avant-garde and the indigenous music of Native Americans, as well as dancehall and raw off-beat club music. In 2017 Lutto Lento released his first full-length album ‘Dark Secret World’. His second full-length album LEGENDO will be released on February 5th 2021. Lubomir also writes music for theatre, film, and video games, and previously contributed the piece Medieval Dreams to Crack Up – Crack Down, an exhibition curated by Slavs and Tatars. He produced “The Contest of the Fruits” rap. http://lubomirgrzelak.com   https://soundcloud.com/luttolento

Aynur Kadir is an Assistant Professor of Lifeways in Indigenous Asia at the University of British Columbia. Her research focuses on practices and theories of design and the study of interactive multimedia in the humanities, ethnographic practice and museum curation.  As a Native of southern Xinjiang who was educated in Uyghur language, she has extensive knowledge of written and oral Uyghur literature, musical traditions and cultural practices. She has documented and digitized an extensive amount of Uyghur folklore, festivals and other endangered cultural heritage. She also has been working with local communities in the Pacific Northwest and in the Six Nation Territories in Canada to develop digital media that document, manage, safeguard, and represent Indigenous cultural heritage. The ultimate goal of her research is to conceptualize the poetics and politics of interactive media in the representation of traditional knowledge and memory; challenge knowledge hierarchy and facilitate the accessibility of traditional or academic knowledge to the wider public, decolonizing digital technologies and contribute to the ethical use of new media through collaboration.


Nashtarr (aka Young Nash) is a Uyghur rapper. His first mixtape Motivation came out in 2019 and was followed by Yanchuqla Tom in 2020. Nashtarr raps in Uyghur and English, collaborating with other Uyghur diaspora rappers and local American MCs. In addition to his rap career, he also designs and produces his own Original Uyghur clothing and merchandise line. He modernized and performed “The Contest of the Fruits” poem, transforming it into a contemporary rap.

Eric Schluessel

Eric Schluessel is an assistant professor of modern Chinese history at the George Washington University and the author of Land of Strangers: The Civilizing Project in Qing Central Asia (Columbia University Press, 2020) and An Introduction to Chaghatay (Maize Books, 2018). He holds a PhD in History and East Asian Languages from Harvard University.

Program Partners

Munawwar Abdulla

Munawwar Abdulla is a lab manager and RT in an evolutionary neuroscience lab at Harvard University. She holds a BSc from the Australian National University and an MSc from UNSW Sydney. When she is not working with dog and fox brains, Munawwar is knee deep in projects surrounding Uyghur activism and community building. She co-founded The Tarim Network, runs Uyghur Collective, and collaborates on projects with many Uyghur rights organisations around the world. She also has a keen interest in poetry and literary translation. Her writings have been published in various places such as SubbedIn, Cordite Poetry Review, Modern Poetry in Translation, The Diplomat, Overachiever Magazine, and Rabbit Poetry Journal.

Zain Abdullah

Zain Abdullah is an award-winning scholar and Associate Professor of Religion & Society and Islamic Studies at Temple University. He earned his doctorate in cultural anthropology from the New School for Social Research in New York City. His first book, Black Mecca: The African Muslims of Harlem (Oxford University Press), has received over a dozen published reviews, and his articles have appeared in numerous periodicals. In his public life, he has organized national conferences on public issues such as Black males and crime, worked as a Muslim Chaplain for the New York and New Jersey departments of corrections, and served on the NJ Attorney General’s Stop Hate Crimes Committee. He is currently completing a book on the Nation of Islam and Black freedom struggles in mid-twentieth century America.

Aliya demonstrates making hand drawn noodles

Aliya (aka Dolan Chick) is a Uyghur woman who first studied and now lives and works in Europe. Her love for traditional Uyghur food inspires her to share it with as many people as possible. She started with a YouTube channel where she shares her experience and knowledge on this ”obscure” but delicious cuisine and has also created a food blog where she makes Uyghur cuisine as easy and accessible as possible — while showing the food at its best through beautiful photography. If that wasn’t enough, she recently started cooking live online with others; reaching more people on a more personal level. Currently she is researching and working on her first Uyghur cookbook.

Elise with her guitar

Elise Anderson is a human rights advocate, scholar, translator, and performer based in Washington, DC. There she works as the senior program officer for research and advocacy at the Uyghur Human Rights Project, a research-based advocacy organization fighting for the rights of Uyghurs and other oppressed Turkic and Muslim peoples in East Turkestan. She holds dual PhD degrees in Central Eurasian studies and ethnomusicology from Indiana University-Bloomington, granted in 2019 after conducting years of primary field and archival research on muqam, classical Uyghur music. In 2020, she testified before the International Human Rights Committee of the Canadian House of Commons and gave commentary on the Uyghur genocide to a number of major media outlets. Her writing has appeared in a number of scholarly and public-facing publications, including Asian Music, Los Angeles Review of Books, and Georgetown Journal of International Affairs.

Abdul Manan

Abdul Manan Bhat, a Kashmiri, is an Urdu poet and writes under the pen-name ‘Alam.’ Much of his poetry, written in the lyric form, ghazal, explores notions of exile, love, loss and return. Abdul Manan has published internationally and has recited at multiple literary forums, including the annual Faiz Literature Festival, London. Some of his poems have been sung by prominent ghazal singers in Kashmir. Currently, Abdul Manan is a PhD student in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Pennsylvania, where he works on Indo-Persian literary and Islamic modernities.

Darren Byler is an incoming Assistant Professor of International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia and a post-doctoral research fellow in the China Made Project at the Center for Asian Studies, CU Boulder. He is the author of a forthcoming ethnography titled Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession and Masculinity in a Chinese City (Duke University Press 2021) and a narrative-driven book titled In the Camps: China’s High-Tech Penal Colony (Columbia Global Reports 2021). His current research interests are focused on infrastructure development and global China in the context of Xinjiang and Malaysia

Partha P. Chakrabartty

Partha P. Chakrabartty is an independent columnist, occasional editor, activist, and translator. His writing can be found at the Mint, the Wire, Firstpost and Open Magazine, among others. His poetry and translations can be found at the Alipore Post, nether, Soch, and Saaranga. He completed his MFA in Creative Writing from Temple University.

Dr. Gülnar Eziz earned her PhD in Linguistic Anthropology at the University of Kansas. Prior to her arrival in the US, she studied at Xinjiang University, where she earned both her BA and her MA degrees. Dr. Eziz was appointed in 2020 as preceptor in Uyghur and East Middle Turkic (Chaghatay) languages in the Department of East Asian Languages and Civilizations at Harvard University.

Joshua L. Freeman

Joshua L. Freeman is a historian of China and Inner Asia and a translator of Uyghur poetry. He is currently a Cotsen Postdoctoral Fellow at the Princeton Society of Fellows in the Liberal Arts and a lecturer in Princeton’s East Asian Studies Department. He received his PhD at Harvard University, and is currently at work on a book manuscript entitled Print Communism: Uyghur National Culture in Twentieth-Century China. His translations of contemporary Uyghur poetry have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Southern Review, Asymptote, Crazyhorse, Words Without Borders, and elsewhere. For more of his poetry translations, follow him on Twitter @jlfreeman6.

Tahir Hamut Izgi

Tahir Hamut Izgil, one of the foremost poets in the Uyghur language, grew up in Kashgar, an ancient city in the southwest of the Uyghur homeland. After college in Beijing, he returned to the Uyghur region and in the late 1990s and 2000s emerged as a prominent film director, perhaps best known for the pathbreaking drama The Moon Is a Witness (Ay guwah). His poetry has appeared in English translation in The New York Review of Books, Asymptote, Gulf Coast, Berkeley Poetry Review, and elsewhere. In 2017, as the Chinese state began the mass internment of Uyghur intellectuals, Izgil fled with his family to the United States. He now works as a producer at Radio Free Asia while continuing his literary work.

Esra N. Karakaya

Esra N. Karakaya is an award-winning journalist, video producer and founder of the youtube talk show KARAKAYA TALKS that aims to open up an online space for people and narratives that are underrepresented and marginalized in German mainstream media. KARAKAYA TALKS doesn’t back down from uncomfortable conversations and never forgets to incorporate humor and ease into their talks cultivating a practice of respectful and empathetic discussion. Esra N. Karakaya has also worked for “Datteltäter” a muslim-centered comedy youtube channel to empower muslim youth in Germany, and raise awareness for muslim experiences. Esra N. Karakaya has been awarded multiple prizes for her work, including the Grimme Online Award (2020), Germany’s most renowned prize for online formats, the „30 under 30“ award of ZEIT CAMPUS publishings (2019)and the “30 under 30“ award by the Hertie Foundation (2019) to name a few.

Suli Kurban is a screenwriter and director who has lived in Munich since 1999. The native Uyghur (Ürümchi) fled to Germany at the age of 11, politically persecuted. As an actress at the Münchner Kammerspiele, the Bavarian Broadcasting Corporation became aware of Kurban in 2008. From then on she reports for the BR on socio-political issues. In 2009, Kurban was awarded the European Civis Media Prize. In 2011, Suli passed the entrance exam and completed a degree as a director at the University of Television and Film in Munich. In the meantime she completed several commissioned productions. In 2020 Suli successfully developed the script for her feature film “ASIAMANIA”. Her films, film hybrids, Snapchat and Instagram, series hit the zeitgeist. Suli Kurban is currently in charge of the social media editorship for Vice Media of the real-time series @ichbinsophiescholl running on Instagram.

Moses The Comic

Moses The Comic is a seasoned Muslim comedian, with a diverse range of innovative concepts, who began his comedy career in Philadelphia at the world famous La-House. Since then, Moses has performed all over the world with his routine bridging the gap between Muslims & Non-Muslims from Caroline’s on Broadway, The Hollywood Improv, The Laugh Factory, Uptown Comedy Corner, Jokes & Notes and many more. Moses has toured and/or performed domestic and internationally with superstar entertainers Kevin Hart, Michael Blackson, Steve Harvey, George Wallace, Charlie Murphy, Kelly Price, Snoop Dogg, Tommy Davidson, Deen Squad, Omar Regan, Preacher Moss, Jill Scott, Kindred The Family Soul among many others and has been featured on the BBC IPlayer and British Muslim Television Network in the UK.

Mukaddas Mijit

Mukaddas Mijit is an ethnomusicologist, filmmaker, and performer born and raised in the Uyghur homeland. She is currently a Postdoctoral fellow at the Université Libre de Bruxelles (Centre for East Asian Studies). Since 2019, Dr. Mijit has been involved in a research program entitled “Towards an alternative model of heritage as sustainable development: Meshrep in Kazakhstan (SOAS)” and several creative projects in Paris and in New York. She has also made four feature-length documentaries and a series of short films on Uyghur culture and is currently working on her first fiction film about Uyghur women’s struggle.

Memetjan Semet is a Uyghur filmmaker and the director of 6 fiction and documentary film shorts and a regional television program. Prior to moving to the United States in 2016 a number of his award-winning films were broadcast on television channels in Northwest China, reaching millions of Uyghur viewers. In the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Semet was part of a generation of young filmmakers who brought influences from Uyghur theater and rural traditions into conversation with Iranian and American film styles. After a long hiatus he is now beginning a new fiction film project utilizing amateur actors in the Uyghur diaspora.

Hussein Smko

Hussein Smko is a dancer, choreographer and filmmaker currently based in NYC and born in Kurdistan, Iraq. Having lived through four wars, Hussein learned his first hip hop move from an American soldier in 2003. In 2006, at age thirteen, he formed the first hip hop dance group called STREET WOLVES which revolutionised the dance culture in Kurdistan. He founded his Dance Theater Company, Project TAG, in 2019. Hussein is currently finishing his new work “A Call for Prayer” that is set to take place this year with a documentary film and dance theater piece. He is also currently choreographing a dance piece for a concept album made by Raelle Myrick-Hodges and is choreographing two solos for ALVIN ALLEY II Student Evita Re.