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Darren Byler: Capitalist Frontier-Making in Northwest China

Capitalist Frontier-Making in Northwest China: Technologies of Muslim Enclosure, Dispossession and Subtraction

A Public Lecture with Darren Byler (Simon Fraser University)

//February 22nd, 2022

//2-4 PM EST

//Virtual Event

//Register via Eventbrite


In his book Terror Capitalism anthropologist Darren Byler shows that the mass detention of over one million Muslims in “reeducation camps” is part of processes of resource extraction in Uyghur and Kazakh lands that have led to what he calls terror capitalism—a configuration of ethnoracialization, surveillance, and internment that in this case promotes settler colonialism. Drawing on ethnographic fieldwork in the regional capital Ürümchi, this talk will show how media infrastructures built in part in Seattle, Beijing and Xinjiang combined with state-corporate enforcement of a capacious technological counterterrorism to produce new forms of Muslim enclosure, dispossession and, ultimately, a subtraction of their life itself. He particularly attends to the experiences of young men, who are made the primary target of state violence—and how they cope with novel forms of unfreedom. By tracing the political and economic stakes of this emergent internal colonial project, the talk demonstrates that state-directed capitalist dispossession is coconstructed with relations of domination that are truly global.


Anthropologist Darren Byler is Assistant Professor of International Studies at Simon Fraser University in Vancouver, British Columbia. He is the author of an ethnographic monograph titled Terror Capitalism: Uyghur Dispossession and Masculinity in a Chinese City (Duke University Press 2022) and a narrative-driven book titled In the Camps: China's High-Tech Penal Colony (Columbia Global Reports 2021). His current research and teaching is focused on infrastructure development and global China.

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