Last King of Kuqa: Uyghur Author Patigül Launches her Xinjiang Historical Novel

First enfeoffed by Qing Emperor Qianlong in 1758, this Uyghur dynasty in northeastern Xinjiang eventually boasted a line of eleven monarchs, popularly known as the “King of Kuqa” (库车王). Kuqa was an ancient Buddhist kingdom located on the branch of the Silk Road that ran along the northern edge of the Taklamakan Desert, but to most Chinese today, the term signifies the city of Kuche. The last in the line, Dawut Makosuti (达吾提·麦合苏提), passed away in 2014.

Over the centuries, the various sovereigns met with different fates depending upon palace intrigue and politics of the era. According to Chinese-language Wikipedia (庫車回部多羅郡王), for instance, the 9th sovereign (買甫思) reportedly died in prison in 1941.

Dawut Makosuti himself, a member of the government during the 1940s, was officially dethroned in 1949 with the establishment of the People’s Republic, and demoted to the more humble position of “translator.” Things got worse during most of the fifties, when he was posted to Aksu and underwent “Reform through Labor” (劳改).  His fate in the Cultural Revolution is not annotated in Wikipedia — hopefully Patigül’s novel will shed some light on those years! — but in 1984 he was rehabilitated, and designated Deputy Chairman of the Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference. In 2004, his palace (库车王府) was refurbished by the government, and he lived there briefly before his death.

A seminar to promote discussion of the soon-to-be published novel (柯卡之恋) will be held in Yuyao, Zhejiang (浙江余姚) on September 11. It was previously partially published in Jiangnan magazine (江南) under the title, 最后的王. In attendance will be the female author, Patigül (帕蒂古丽), who was raised in a multiethnic Xinjiang village by her Hui mother and Uyghur father, and speaks fluent Uyghur, Kazakh and Mandarin. Her tumultuous, semi-autobiographical family saga, portrayed in moving detail in One Hundred Year Bloodline (百年血脉), has been translated into English by Natascha Bruce, and should be published within 2017 by Chinese Translation & Publishing House.

Patigül’s piece on leaving Xinjiang for life in Zhejiang, Life of a Mimic, also touches boldly on sensitive interethnic issues in China today in a way that simply cannot be matched by mainstream Han authors.

Xinjiang Slogan Update: Pomegranate Seeds

Dance to the music, Comrade: “People of all ethnic groups are like pomegranate seeds, tightly embracing one another” reads the banner (upper right)

As part of the global One Belt, One Road publicity campaign, China’s media is publishing a bevy of articles introducing major oasis cities along the ancient Silk Road, including this one focusing on Xinjiang’s Aksu (一带一路上的阿克苏: 新型全球化的城市样本). Here’s a pic from the article, showing modern-day Aksu residents dancing.

Inner Mongolia Film Week: Sep 9-17 in Hohhot

Event: 内蒙古青年电影周 (Inner Mongolia Film Week)

Date: 2017.9.9-17

Venue: 呼和浩特 玉泉区 (Yuquan District, Hohhot, Inner Mongolia)

Details: Twenty-three films will be shown, including six full-length ones: K》,《风的另外一面》,《十八站》,《写真人生》,《北国之春》,《无人》

Burn the books and bury the scholars! 焚書坑儒!

Geremie Barmé takes a look at the recent decision of Cambridge University Press to reinstate content deleted from the online version of its China Quarterly available in China:

Chinese censorship has come a long way.

During his rule in the second century B.C.E., the First Emperor 秦始皇 of a unified China, Ying Zheng 嬴政, famously quashed the intellectual diversity of his day by ‘burning the books and burying the scholars’ 焚書坑儒. He not only got rid of troublesome texts, he deleted their authors and potential readers as well.

Click here for the full essay.

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Quote of the Week: Pamuk on Teaching His Own Novels

I teach comparative literature at Columbia University. At the start of every semester, if I plan to discuss one of my own novels in class, I always tell my new students an old story about writing and teaching.

It’s a very popular (but possibly apocryphal) anecdote about Vladimir Nabokov. In 1957, he was proposed for an appointment at Harvard University as professor of Russian literature. Not everyone welcomed the idea. “If Russian literature is to be taught by Russian greats,” the Harvard linguist Roman Jacobson reportedly told his colleagues, “then we must get elephants to teach at the faculty of zoology.”

(Turkish author Orhan Pamuk, quoted in Sometimes, to Teach a Novel Feels Like a Betrayal of Literature)

非漂 [Fēi Piāo] Newsbriefs: September 2017

Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie, speaking in Glossing Africa, questions the practice of briefly defining, footnoting, or otherwise clarifying the usage of indigenous terms in one’s fiction writing: There’s a part of me that just deeply resents the fact that there’re many parts of the world where the fiction that comes from there is read as anthropology rather than as literature. And increasingly that kind of anthropological reading then means that . . . you’re explaining your world rather than inhabiting your world.

“We don land gidigba!”

The BBC has launched a Lagos-based online news service that delivers news exclusively in West African pidgin English — a mixture of English, local languages and street slang — spoken by millions of people across ethnic and cultural lines in the region. Reporters will be stationed in Nigeria, Ghana and Cameroon.

 At The Republic, SOAS Ph D candidate Oreva Olakpe documents “parallel institutional arrangements Nigerian migrants have established in China,” including “an informal justice system” that “facilitates dispute resolution at a micro level — which, practically, the Chinese government cannot enforce due to the clandestine existence of many individuals.”

One Last Ride aboard Kenya’s “Lunatic Express”

Writes Thomas Bird from Kenya (Lunatic Express), where the China-built new Nairobi-to-Mombasa railway looks set to render the Victorian-era line redundant:

“Belt and Road Cooperation for Common Promutual Benefit,” proclaims a large street sign suspended above Beijing’s ever-congested second ring road.

China is investing massively in its 21st-century reimagin­ing of the Silk Roads, even if the budget for fluid English translation remains insufficient. This rekindling of ancient trade routes is President Xi Jinping’s signature project and, in the year of the Communist Party’s 19th National Congress, the banners are flying the message of globalisation with Chinese characteristics.

Deals have been brokered from Vientiane to Vilnius, provoking critics to cry, “Empire!” and advocates to applaud vital infrastructure heading to countries most in need of investment.

Many of those countries are in Africa and, in May, an unveiling in Kenya highlighted the fact that China’s inter­nationalist wheels are already very much in motion.

But first, a little history …

To Gloss or Not, That is the Question

There’s a part of me that just deeply resents the fact that there’re many parts of the world where the fiction that comes from there is read as anthropology rather than as literature. And increasingly that kind of anthropological reading then means that . . . you’re explaining your world rather than inhabiting your world.

(Nigerian novelist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie speaking in Glossing Africa, referring to the practice of briefly defining, footnoting, or otherwise clarifying the usage of an indigenous term in one’s fiction writing)

Xinjiang’s Hotian Education Department Issues Directive Limiting Use of Uyghur in Schools

According to a July 28, 2017 report by Radio Free Asia (Uyhgur Language):

In late June, the Education Department in Xinjiang’s Hotan (in Chinese, Hetian) prefecture issued a five-point directive outlawing the use of Uyghur at schools in favor of Mandarin Chinese “in order to strengthen elementary and middle/high school bilingual education.”

Under the directive — a copy of which was obtained by RFA’s Uyghur Service — schools must “insist on fully popularizing the national common language and writing system according to law, and add the education of ethnic language under the bilingual education basic principle.”

Beginning in the fall semester this year, Mandarin Chinese “must be resolutely and fully implemented” for the three years of preschool, and “promoted” from the first years of elementary and middle school “in order to realize the full coverage of the common language and writing system education.”

The directive instructs schools to “resolutely correct the flawed method of providing Uyghur language training to Chinese language teachers” and “prohibit the use of Uyghur language, writing, signs and pictures in the educational system and on campuses.”

Additionally, the order bans the use of Uyghur language in “collective activities, public activities and management work of the education system.”

For Chinese report, see: 維吾爾語

穆拉特詹·萨本主: “我的父亲与新闻自由正在土耳其受审”

我的父亲与新闻自由正在土耳其受审
— 欧洲,别撇开眼睛!

12 名《共和国报》受押采编人员法庭受审,警醒各方:

民主与人权正陷入四面楚歌

原文发表于 英国 《卫报》2017 年 7 月 24 日 (英文全文在此
Muratcan Sabuncu(穆拉特詹·萨本主)撰文 (Muratcan Sabuncu 为土耳其《共和国报》总编 Murat Sabuncu 的儿子,以及法国的索邦人权协会会长)

这个故事想必大家都熟悉,有个暴君身着盛装在大道上游行,臣民都在曲意奉承他,突然有个小孩子大声疾呼:“皇帝并没穿什么衣服呀!”。这孩子就像当下土耳其同样正直敢言的人。谁说出真相,谁才是爱国忠良,才称得上国家良知,因为他们拨开乌云,让蒙在阴霾下的人重见天日。

家父,Murat Sabuncu(穆拉特·萨本主),直言勿讳,担任 Cumhuriyet (《共和国报》) 日报总编,持异见之声,却广受赞誉,在土耳其媒体中,实属罕见。他与11名 Cumhuriyet 同僚,九个月羁押期刚满,将于周一 [7 月 31 日]在伊斯坦布尔接受法庭审理。

在押仅满五个月,Cumhuriyet 新闻工作者及该报社其他从业人员才获悉他们所面临的指控。罪名是与恐怖组织有关联,有可能被判处7.5到43年监禁。然而,翻开起诉书,内容仅仅是报刊标题、消息、报道、专栏和推文。由此可见,新闻业和新闻自由才是此案真正的受审者。

Cumhuriyet 自 1924 年在土耳其创刊以来一直坚持倡导民主共和、世俗主义等价值观念。该报新闻工作者坚称其批评文章,旨在对抗危机,维护秩序,为效忠祖国之根本。连同家父在内,他们让公众认识到,诚实准确与公平是如何被颠倒的。他们深信消息通畅可以开阔公民视野,使其三思而后做决断。显然,从家父及同僚们笔尖流露出的是他们的报国精神与爱国情怀。

我父一贯执笔支持民主,正义与良知。他曾反对1997年土耳其军方利用 “备忘录” 逼迫亲伊斯兰政府下台的;反对头巾禁令;不支持以反对世俗主义为借口解散执政的 “正义与发展党”的企图;以及反对 2016 年 7 月 15 日未遂政变的图谋。小时候,我记得父亲密切关注过刺杀赫兰特·丁克(Hrant Dink)编辑的事件以及随之而来的谋杀审案,并去锡利夫里 (Silivri) 监狱探望朋友,记者纳迪姆·塞内尔(Nedim Şener),他在额尔古纳昆(Ergenekon)案中被捕并遭到指控。我父亲深知异见记者要冒失业,入狱和死亡的危险,他曾经向我调侃道,从 Cumhuriyet 总社的总编办公室,坟场和法院,他都看得到。

为了坚持信念,父亲经历过短暂的失业,随后他在 Cumhuriyet 又操起了一番事业。如今,他正被拘禁在Silivri监狱。有一点我须要强调,我说的拘禁是指彻底隔离:每周分配一小时给家属和律师探望,每两周打一次电话,通话时长为十分钟,每两个月一次敞开式探视。 此类事件要是发生在《泰晤士报》、《电讯报》或《卫报》总编身上,您会有什么反应?

我深信数以百万计的土耳其公民在声援我们的事业。他们的心潮在为一个宽容、宽广、多元、民主的土耳其而激荡,在那里,人们不用再因为讲真话而担惊受怕,不会再由于意见不同而被迫流亡。土耳其人没有把搞新闻当成犯罪行为,而是拿因言获罪当作有辱国门。土耳其人认为,我父亲和他的同僚所面临的卡夫卡式指控超出了常态范围,反而削弱了土耳其打击真正恐怖组织的合法性。

我在全欧洲举办的活动中,让更多人认识到 Cumhuriyet 审判和土耳其新闻自由,有一个问题我被频频问到:“您对欧洲有什么期待?”我期望欧洲不仅要关注下周的审判,并要继续聚焦土耳其人争取权利的受审案。

至于民主和人权到处遭受困境之际,我们全球的公民,每时每刻都应捍卫这些价值。让我们起来倡导新闻自由,鉴于它是其他权利的保证,在攻克难关和做出良策方面发挥关键作用。争取土耳其新闻自由是大家共同的斗争。 Cumhuriyet 敢怒敢言的新闻工作者,确实向我们展示了一个赤裸裸的皇帝。就让我们团结起来义无反顾地力挺他们。 [终]