Many of the research that has gone into this project is not immediately visible. Here we have compiled some references that can help you learn more about Uyghur culture and the fantastic collaborators we’ve been honored to work with.


darren byler

Living Otherwise

The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia is edited by Dr. Darren Byler (Post-Doctoral Researcher, University of Colorado, Boulder) in collaboration with Uyghur, Han and Kazakh writers and other scholars. The site is focused on emerging forms of art and politics in Northwest China and Central Asia. Based on years of ethnographic fieldwork in the migrant communities of Ürümchi, this site exists to provide a decolonial space for Xinjiang artists, film-makers, writers, musicians and poets to share what is happening to their homelands. It is here to amplify the stories of migrants who come to city in search of ways of living otherwise. Darren Byler contributed an essay to The Contest of the Fruits publication.


cover of The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History

The Sacred Routes of Uyghur History

Written by: Rian Thum
Published by: Harvard University Press

For 250 years, the Turkic Muslims of Altishahr—the vast desert region to the northwest of Tibet—have led an uneasy existence under Chinese rule. Today they call themselves Uyghurs, and they have cultivated a sense of history and identity that challenges Beijing’s official national narrative. Rian Thum argues that the roots of this history run deeper than recent conflicts, to a time when manuscripts and pilgrimage dominated understandings of the past. Beyond broadening our knowledge of tensions between the Uyghurs and the Chinese government, this meditation on the very concept of history probes the limits of human interaction with the past.

Soundscapes of Uyghur Islam by Rachel Harris

Soundscapes of Uyghur Islam

Written by: Rachel Harris
Published by: Indiana University Press

China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Regionis experiencing a crisis of securitization and mass incarceration. In Soundscapes of Uyghur Islam, author Rachel Harris examines the religious practice of a group of Uyghur women in a small village now engulfed in this chaos. Despite their remote location, these village women are mobile and connected, and their religious soundscapes flow out across transnational networks. Harris explores the spiritual and political geographies they inhabit, moving outward from the village to trace connections with Mecca, Istanbul, Bishkek, and Beijing. Sound, embodiment, and territoriality illuminate both the patterns of religious change among Uyghurs and the policies of cultural erasure used by the Chinese state to reassert its control over the land the Uyghurs occupy. By drawing on contemporary approaches to the circulation of popular music, Harris considers how various forms of Islam that arrive via travel and the Internet come into dialogue with local embodied practices. Synthesized together, these practices create new forms that facilitate powerful, affective experiences of faith.

cover of Uyghur Nation

Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russia-China Frontier

Written by: David Brophy
Published by: Harvard University Press

The meeting of the Russian and Qing empires in the nineteenth century had dramatic consequences for Central Asia’s Muslim communities. Along this frontier, a new political space emerged, shaped by competing imperial and spiritual loyalties, cross-border economic and social ties, and the revolutions that engulfed Russia and China in the early twentieth century. David Brophy explores how a community of Central Asian Muslims responded to these historic changes by reinventing themselves as the modern Uyghur nation.

BooKs // Reading List

book covers

Uyghur Books list on Goodreads

Books about Uyghurs, by Uyghurs, or books that feature Uyghurs.


Elise Anderson

Compelled Silence and Compelled Sound in the Uyghur Genocide

Elise Anderson, December 15, 2020

Since 2017, China has waged a repressive campaign against Uyghurs in an effort to destroy their ways of life. This essay considers compelled silence and compelled sound as a byproduct of this genocidal campaign. The impact on Uyghur soundscapes reveals the depth of Chinese state interference into Uyghur life and underscores the gross scale of the mass atrocity itself.

Tahir Hamut Izgil

One by One, My Friends Were Sent to the Camps

Tahir Hamut Izgil, July 14, 2021

What is it like to live through—and escape—the Uyghur genocide? Tahir Hamut Izgil tells his family’s story in an unprecedented long-form essay for the Atlantic.

Joshua Freeman

Uighur Poets on Repression and Exile

Joshua L. Freeman, August 13, 2020

It is precisely because of poetry’s power in Uighur culture that these three poets, along with nearly every other prominent Uighur intellectual, disappeared more than two years ago into China’s internment camps.


Aliya holds out hand stretched noodles

Cooking Uyghur Food with Dolan Chick

Website of Contest in Context participant Aliya (aka Dolan Chick), who hosts Uyghur cooking tutorials and basic language lessons.

Media from the Uyghur Diaspora

telephone poles, rolling hills, a camp in the distance

Camp Album Project

An online home for diverse creative media by Uyghurs living throughout the diaspora, Uyghur Collective is run by Munawwar Abdulla, who also contributed poetry and translations to The Contest of the Fruits book.

drawing of an Uyghur child with chin resting in hands

Uyghur Collective

An online home for diverse creative media by Uyghurs living throughout the diaspora, Uyghur Collective is run by Munawwar Abdulla, who also contributed poetry and translations to The Contest of the Fruits book.

Völkermord an Uigur:innen in China – was da los?

German-language introduction to the struggles of Uyghur people in China and in the diaspora, moderated by Esra Karakaya. One of the first news segments in the German language that centers the voices of Uyghurs living in Germany.


Contest in Context Playlist

Playlist of the music we have featured throughout our virtual series.

Uyghur musical performers

Discostan X Robert McDougall: Uyghur Pop Music

NTS Radio show featuring Uyghur popular music.

Elise Anderson’s Uyghur music playlist

A fluid playlist of Uyghur music from essayist Elise Anderson.

Central Asian musicians in traditional garb with instruments

The Music of Central Asia (website)

The Music of Central Asia surveys the rich and diverse musical life of a region once at the center of the trans-Eurasian Silk Road trade that has reemerged in our own time as a crucial arena of global geopolitics. Developed both as a resource for Central Asians to learn about the musical heritage of their own region and to introduce this heritage to readers and listeners worldwide, The Music of Central Asia balances “insider” and “outsider” perspectives contributed by 27 authors from 14 countries. A principal feature of the book is this companion website through which readers may access 189 audio and video examples accompanied by listening guides and study questions, and by transliterations and translations of performed texts.

Qarakhan: Uyghurche Gep Rep Sep

Track by early Uyghur rapper Qarakhan.

Qarakhan: قاراخان – ئۇيغۇرچە رەپ

Track by early Uyghur rapper Qarakhan.

Adhan (azan – a Uyghur imam on the Mosque roof calling for pray).

Sound Islam in China

There is an urgent need for new, ethnographically grounded research into Islamic practices in contemporary China, with a focus on the local production of meaning. The aim of this project is to cut through the polarised debates which dominate contemporary discussions of Islam in China, and provide clearer insights into the nature and ideology of religious practice in China today. Such research is key to enhancing our understanding of how transnational trends in Islam are being locally reproduced, negotiated and reconfigured. Through fieldwork-based studies of sounded religious practices we seek critical insights into the popular politics of marginalized members of society. Instead of privileging rationalism and reasoned debate, we shift the focus to embodiment, affect, and other forms of persuasion, debate, and difference-making.

Music // Dance

Ayshemgul Memet Ensemble & Mukaddas Mijit

Traditional Uyghur music and dance. Mukaddas Mijit was one of the participants in our virtual series The Contest in Context and a contributor to The Contest of the Fruits publication.



tarim talks screenshot

Tarim Talks

Tarim Talks covers conversations with exceptional Uyghurs; pioneers that have ventured into new environments and industries achieving great success. It explore themes of identity, upbringing, overcoming challenges, mentoring and the key to prosperity. It is funded by The Tarim Network, a registered charity based in London, United Kingdom that operates as a platform to engage and inspire Uyghur youth worldwide.

Mukaddas Mijit

Weghur Stories

At WEghur Stories, we are working to create a conversation within and about the global Uyghur diaspora. Each episode highlights members of that diaspora who are working in the arts, sciences, academia, or advocacy. We want to highlight their stories for our audience, while also creating a place where they can connect with one another.

WEghur Stories is produced by The New Wild, a multidisciplinary art lab. Co-creator Mukaddas Mijit has also been one of the participants in our virtual series The Contest in Context and a contributor to The Contest of the Fruits book.


contest of the fruits interior page

The Contest of the Fruits

Uyghur and English, PDF (12.2MB)

Joshua Freeman

Twitter profile of Josh Freeman

Josh Freeman features news from the Uyghur region as well as his own translations of Uyghur poetry.

Uyghur Cultural Heritage

preview of library

Library of Turkistani

Indepdendently-run digital library of books and papers related to the Uyghur region. The collection contains volumes in Uyghur (Arabic and Cyrillic alphabets), French, German, Hungarian, Persian, Turkish, and English. Not all books are available as full pdf’s, but many can be scanned and sent to researchers upon request.

preview of photo gallery snapshots

Photo Gallery of Journey to Turkistan by Eric Teichman

In 1935 the British Consul Eric Teichman leaves his post in Beijing and sets out for Chinese Turkestan, before returning to England through India. His journey from Beijing to India lasts for four months. He crosses Suiyuan by train and travels through Inner and Outer Mongolia, the Gobi desert, Hami, Urumchi, Turfan, and Karashar on a motor truck, from Kashgar to Gilgit on horseback and on foot, and finally takes a plane to Delhi. A great number of photographs taken during this journey are to be found in the book, and provide a valuable glimpse into the history of the region. It is hosted on the The Gunnar Jarring Central Eurasia Collection website. Jarring is a controversial figure in the history of the Uyghur region, but his collection serves as a precious resource of books, maps, and photographs.

uyghur meshrep project

Uyghur Meshrep Project

Working with Uyghur community leaders and organisations in Kazakhstan, the project is implementing a program of consultation and training sessions, grants and prizes for meshrep groups. The project aims to harness meshrep as a means to revitalize grass-roots expressive culture and indigenous language, strengthen community organization, and create networks of micro-finance to support sustainable economic livelihoods. It was co-founded by Rachel Harris, who also contributed a short essay on meshrep to The Contest of the Fruits book.