The crisis of China research in an age of genocide

Kevin Carrico


Since 2017, it has become increasingly undeniable that crimes against humanity are occurring in the area now known as the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. This article examines the particular ethical dilemmas posed to China-focused academics by these events. A generation of researchers who began their careers engaging with a “rising power” now face a state openly engaged in genocide. Academics who have come to see their jobs as “understanding” China now face realities beyond comprehension. Speaking honestly is the only dignified option, but it is at the same time also the most difficult path, on account of the Chinese state’s aggressive monitoring of public commentary, control over research access, and extraterritorial harassment of critics. How are research and academic discourse on China impacted by these developments? And what can academics do, or not, to live up to the urgent challenges of this historical moment?

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/720512