Tigers, Buttering of, now online

My Dublin Review piece on corruption and factories in China is now online.


Great photos from Yamaliq in Urumqi

autonomous region

I recently came across this set of images shot in Yamaliq, a hillside neighborhood in western Urumqi right behind the main train station, by Chinese photographer Tian Lin (b.1971), who is a native of Urumqi. As many of you have already known, the neighborhood has been occupied mostly by extremely poor Uyghur migrants from other towns of Xinjiang. The set of black-and-white images presents a powerful story about darkness and hopelessness, accompanied by some well written short texts, stories, and poems about the dispossessed residents of Yamaliq. It seems that some photographs have already been published in the magazine Zhongguo sheyingjia (Chinese photographers) in 2011. The link below is Tian Lin’s page on Artedge.cn, a Chinese visual art website. Go to the bottom of the page to click into each of the ten categories to see the photographs. The picture below is taken from here.



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Immoral Holiday

Babur and Humayun

Babur and Humayun

I have a short post on the Uzbek government’s ban on Valentine’s Day up on the LRB blog. There is also a ban in Iran, Malaysia, Pakistan and Saudi Arabia, where Valentine’s cards and celebrations are banned on the grounds that the day is a Western import that goes against their society’s values and traditions.

The Uzbek government’s alternative has been to suggest that February 14th be used to celebrate the Moghul Emperor Babur’s birthday; Tamerlane, his great-grand father, is already frequently invoked by President Karimov. Ever since its independence in 1991, Uzbekistan has been attempting to construct a nationalistic narrative of Uzbek culture and history. One of its main vehicles for doing this has been the variety performances that celebrate Independence and Navro’z (a festival with Zoroastrian roots which marks the spring equinox). However, just as few people seem to pay much attention to these gala occasions, so it seems unlikely that this year’s added invective against Valentine’s Day will have dissuaded many young people from finding ways to mark the holiday.

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