I’ll be having two kinds of fun in NYC this month. I’ll be giving a paper at the Association for the Study of Nationalities conference at Columbia University on 19th April. The paper is titled ‘Post-Conflict Identities in Xinjiang: Good, Bad and Non Muslims’ and is basically about the mean things that Uighurs I knew said about Han Chinese, Hui and other Uighurs in Yining. For example, this exchange that I had with a Uighur girl in a small village near Yining.

‘Are there any Chinese here?’

‘No, you would be able to smell them.’

‘What do they smell of?’

‘Spices, mostly chilli.’

‘What do they say you smell of?’

‘Lamb. Many Chinese, they can’t stand this smell. When they come here for the first time, they will –’ (she mimed retching) ‘when they smell this.’

Were this not fun enough, I’ll also be doing a book reading at Bluestockings in Manhattan on the 22nd. For the love of God, if you know anyone in NYC, please tell them to come.

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