Testimonies and the Uyghur genocide metanarrative: Some reflections from the field

Vanessa Frangville


This paper seeks to explore the epistemic role of testimonies in the ongoing Uyghur crisis, as well as their development in patterns and focus. It first unfolds the metanarrative of the Uyghur genocide and shows how it has increasingly shaped individual stories, based on examples from my fieldwork in the Uyghur diaspora in Europe in 2018 and 2019 and observations of videorecorded testimonies I contributed to broadcasts on online platforms from 2019 to 2021. My main argument is that the Uyghur genocide metanarrative can empower Uyghurs, especially women, by telling stories they wouldn’t tell in other contexts, but can also obscure our understanding of a complex situation by limiting individual narratives to serve a larger collective cause.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.1086/720368