under the mulberry tree
A Contemporary Uyghur Anthology, Vol. 1
Overview: The Contemporary Uyghur Anthology is a collection of Uyghur reflections in diaspora. Weaving together memories of the homeland, experiences of displacement, and transitions of identities, this anthology is a creative reflection of the beauty and complexities of the Uyghur experience.
By centering Uyghur voices at the forefront, this anthology serves as a form of living memory in a pivotal moment of Uyghur history. The title Under the Mulberry Tree refers to a story from the Uyghur literary classic Ana Yurt, where youthful Nuri faces terrible injustices, separation, and turmoil; but for one moment in the Charbagh, his love for Sebihe and his own family is full, ripe, and sweet, like the mulberries from the ancient tree. In a similar way that the mulberry tree offered comforts in Nuri’s time of need, we hope this volume offers a place of reflection and celebration of Uyghur culture.
88 pp. | 210 x 315 mm
In collaboration with The Tarim Network, René Cassin and Moishe House
Maidina Kadeer, Sonya Imin, Munawwar Abdulla
The Contemporary Uyghur Anthology began in 2021 as an initiative brought forward to the Tarim Network by the René Cassin Institute’s Fellowship program. The Anthology, organized by a team of three Uyghur co-editors and a Jewish co-editor, began by hosting a series of art, poetry, and creative writing workshops to support potential contributors in developing their work. The Anthology did not put forward a central theme for its first issue, but after reflecting over the submission a natural link between the works became apparent: memory. The role memory plays in the diasporic Uyghur communities across the globe is often influenced by a collective yearning for a home which we no longer have access to. These experiences of memory are explored through engaging Uyghur language and literature, re-imagining Uyghur visual culture, and reflecting one's past life through personal essays. The memories elicited by the works in this Anthology are more than a mere re-telling of an event. Instead, these works serve as a living testimony that has long yearned to be witnessed.
The Contemporary Uyghur Anthology serves as a written and visual testimony to a snapshot of the present moment of the Uyghur experience, transcending the boundaries of borders and disbelief of the Uyghur experience. These memories are an invitation into observing a specific reality, which in some cases may be long-gone. Gabriel Marcel defines testimony as bearing witness to suffering, which requires the acceptance of personal truth through an act of ‘self-gifting’, which in this case has materialized in the creation of this Anthology. Additionally, Marcel argues that the act of testimony is to derive authentic meaning and personal liberty through our deeper experiences of identity and beinghood, or what he refers to as the ‘I’. The Anthology is a space where the ‘I’ is recorded, testified and witnessed as an exploration of spaces, places and faces which continue to live with and through every one of our contributors. Memory has become a conduit through which the contributors have explored their personal and collective experiences, creating a space where Uyghur voices and interests could be harbored and put at the forefront of our discourse. In this way, we are testifying before our own community and the world, exploring the complexity of what it means to be Uyghur in contemporary society. Subsequently, as China continues its denial of the ongoing genocide against the Uyghur and Turkic communities, forms of testimonial memory serve as an active re-structuring of what is perceived to be truth in history.
As a collection of works that responded to an open call to submission, we are pleased to know that our first volume is then an introduction into Uyghur life. In the process of working on this Anthology, we recognize the vulnerability which comes from sharing and identifying oneself as Uyghur. We understand that many in the diaspora continue to deal with the heavy burden of losing access to our home and loved ones. Yet, this vulnerability of our collective experience was able to paint an intimate reflection of Uyghur lives. For Uyghurs, attention to our life and story, for a larger part of our history with imperial and colonial conquest, has only appeared when violence and unrest erupts. As much as memory in the Anthology testifies to the trauma which comes with the Uyghur identity, this volume also bears the sweet fruition of our rich culture and the beauty in which Uyghur life stems from. The expansive power embedded in the encounters of art and literature has allowed Uyghurs, or the ‘I’ according to Marcel, to be testified. Our collective creation of ‘Under the Mulberry Tree’ is thus the meeting place where we share with one another our past, dreams and hopes for the future. Under the shades of its lush branches, Uyghur life continues to flourish and grow.
Muyesser Abdul'ehed (Hendan)
Joshua L Freeman
Malik Orda Turdush
Malik Orda Turdush
Please contact us for further information about obtaining an electronic copy of this book and distribution of physical books.