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Xinjiang: China’s troubled frontier region

ANU China Seminar Series


David Brophy, Tom Cliff, Anna Hayes, James Leibold, and Michael Clarke


Seminar Room A, China in the World Building (188), Fellows Lane, ANU


Thursday, 26 July, 2018 - 15:30 to 18:00

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The present-day region of Xinjiang has long stood in a complex relationship with successive Chinese governments. At times it has posed a direct challenge to Chinese identity and sovereignty; but Xinjiang’s strategic importance as a resource-rich Eurasian crossroad is well recognized. The basic complexities of this relationship continue to the present day, with ongoing efforts to assert Chinese control, transform Xinjiang society, and open the region to the world through the Belt and Road Initiative. This roundtable discussion will explore the complexities of the interactions of Chinese state and society with Xinjiang’s political, cultural, and spatial identities, past and present. It will do so from the perspectives of a range of academic disciplines: history; anthropology; politics and governance; and international security. It will attempt to assess the long-standing, and on-going, significance of Xinjiang to China and the world. And it will examine the current tensions between Xinjiang and the Chinese centre.

About the speakers

David Brophy is senior lecturer in the Department of History at the University of Sydney. He is a historian of modern Xinjiang since the Qing period, and the author of Uyghur Nation: Reform and Revolution on the Russo-Chinese Frontier (2016). He is currently working on an ARC-funded research project entitled Empire and Religion in Early Modern Inner Asia. 

Tom Cliff is an ARC DECRA Research Fellow in the School of Culture, History, and Language at the Australian National University. He has conducted fieldwork in Xinjiang over two decades. In 2018, his Oil and Water: Being Han in Xinjiang (Chicago University Press, 2016) won the Association for Asian Studies' prestigious E Gene Smith prize for Best Book on Inner Asia.

Anna Hayes is a Senior Lecturer in politics and international relations at James Cook University. She specialises in human security, HIV/AIDS as a non-traditional threat to security, and human insecurity in the People’s Republic of China. Her recent publications have explored heightened insecurity in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region and she conducted fieldwork in the region in 2012.

James Leibold is an Associate Professor in the Politics and Philosophy Department at La Trobe University. His research addresses the politics of ethnicity, race, and national identity in modern Chinese history and society. His current research projects include ethnic theory, policies and conflict in contemporary China with a particular focus on the Uyghur and Tibetan communities of Western China.

Michael Clarke is an Associate Professor at the ANU National Security College. He researches the history and politics of the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region, Chinese foreign policy in Central Asia, Central Asian geopolitics, and nuclear proliferation and non-proliferation. He regularly provides commentary on issues relating to Xinjiang and Chinese foreign policy to such media as the Wall Street Journal, USA Today, LA Times, Voice of America, BBC News, The New York Times, The Guardian, CNN and Reuters.

Before the seminar

All attendees are invited to join us in the CIW Tea House from 3.30pm for an informal discussion with the guest speakers before the seminar.
The ANU China Seminar Series is supported by the China Institute and the Australian Centre on China in the World at The Australian National University’s College of Asia & the Pacific.

Updated:  24 April, 2017/Responsible Officer:  Dean, ANU College of Asia & the Pacific/Page Contact:  CAP Web Team