Volume 79, Number 22 | November 04 - 10, 2009
West and East Village, Chelsea, Soho, Noho, Little Italy, Chinatown and Lower East Side, Since 1933


Villager photos by Q. Sakamaki

In Xinjiang, Chinese are bulldozing away a culture

After outbreaks of ethnic violence between Han Chinese and minority Muslim Uighurs in Xinjiang, China, in July, globetrotting East Village conflict photographer Q. Sakamaki visited the province — China’s westernmost — in August. Uighurs are a Turkic Muslim ethnic group. Xinjiang means “new frontier” in Mandarin, and the government has encouraged mass migration into the area. China is “modernizing” Xinjiang, demolishing mud-brick structures in ancient Silk Road cities, like Kashgar and Khotan, and rebuilding with high-rises, in the name of security and earthquake protection. But Sakamaki fears a culture is being obliterated. Photos this page, clockwise from above: A Uighur woman making hats in the traditional style; Uighur men sitting amid the rubble of a razed area; a Uighur couple and two Han Chinese with new buildings rising in the background. Opposite page, clockwise from top: Uighur women commute; a scene in a traditional Uighur enclave; a ripped-up Koran in an ancient mosque, a famed holy site, in a desert area where the Chinese government has started to take control.

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