In this short talk I use the conceptual framing of a digital enclosure to consider the way Uyghur and Kazakh societies in Northwest China have been enveloped by a surveillance system over the past decade. I show how novel enclosures are produced and, in turn, construct new frontiers in capital accumulation and state power. The Turkic Muslim digital enclosure system began with the construction of 3-G cellular wireless networks which provided Uyghurs and Kazakhs with interactive smart-phone enabled capabilities across time and space. But over time state authorities paid private technology companies to build a data-intensive system with a wide range of spatial scales and information analytics that came to center on "Muslim" social media assessment and ethno-racialized face recognition technology. This complex matrix of overlaid enclosures assessed and controlled the movements and behavior of Muslims in increasingly intimate ways, resulting in mass detentions in "reeducation" camps. What makes the case in Northwest China unique beyond its scale and cruelty, is that in this context rather than banishing targeted populations solely to human warehousing spaces such as peripheral ghettos, camps or prisons, the digital enclosure works to explicitly “reeducate” the population as industrial workers and implement a forced labor regime.
Darren Byler (University of Colorado, Boulder)
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