The Institute for Chinese Studies and Department of History present:
"Uyghur Poets and the Making of a Cold War Diaspora"
Joshua L. Freeman
Abstract: The far-flung Uyghur diaspora responded to China’s Communist revolution in widely varying ways, but these responses shared one characteristic feature of Uyghur culture: they were often expressed in verse. Drawing on contemporary publications, this paper explores how diaspora Uyghur poets grappled in verse with the Maoist project, in the process helping to situate their communities along both sides of emerging Cold War fault lines. In Soviet Central Asia, Uyghur poets welcomed the advent of Communist rule in their ancestral homeland, while nationalist Uyghur intellectuals who had fled into exile dispatched fiery anti-Communist verses from Turkey and Taiwan. Meanwhile, Xinjiang’s Uyghur poets responded with verse affirming the revolution and its allies. By analyzing Uyghur diaspora poets’ intersections with Maoist Xinjiang across borders and decades, this paper demonstrates that the cross-border connections of minority communities helped link Mao’s China to a literary world stretching beyond the cramped borders of the Cold War. Download the PDF flyer here.
Joshua L. Freeman is an assistant research fellow at the Institute of Modern History, Academia Sinica, in Taiwan. As a historian of twentieth-century China and Inner Asia, he examines the interactions of socialist policy and national culture across borders and administrations. His focus is the transborder Uyghur nation, whose formation was closely intertwined with history’s two largest socialist states. Freeman is also a translator of Uyghur literature; his translations of contemporary Uyghur poetry have appeared in The New York Review of Books, The Atlantic, The Guardian, and elsewhere. His translation of Uyghur poet Tahir Hamut Izgil’s memoir of the Xinjiang crisis, Waiting to Be Arrested at Night, will be published in August 2023 by Penguin Press in the US and Jonathan Cape in the UK.
Free and Open to the Public
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This event is supported by a U.S. Department of Education Title VI grant to The Ohio State University East Asian Studies Center.