Darren Byler is a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Colorado, Boulder. His book project titled Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession in a Chinese City focuses on the effects of digital culture production and surveillance, new forms of capitalism, and mass internment in the lives of Uyghur and Han migrants in the city of Ürümchi, the capital of Chinese Central Asia (Xinjiang). He has published research articles in the Asia-Pacific Journal, Contemporary Islam, Central Asian Survey, and the Journal of Chinese Contemporary Art, and contributed essays to volumes on ethnography of Islam in China, transnational Chinese cinema, and travel and representation. In addition he has provided expert testimony on Uyghur human rights issues before the Canadian House of Commons and writes a regular column on these issues for the website SupChina. He also edits the art and politics repository The Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia, which is hosted at livingotherwise.com
A preventative policing system in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region has detained as many as 1.5 million Turkic Muslims deemed ‘pre-terrorists’ or ‘extremists’. This essay shows how a counterinsurgency mode of militarism that emerged in the United States, Israel, and Europe, has been adapted as a ‘Xinjiang mode’ of community policing in China. It argues that the scale of detentions and the use of surveillance technology make the ‘Xinjiang mode’ of counterinsurgency unprecedented.