The Uyghurs

Kashgar before the Catastrophe

An unforgettable portrait of the Uyghurs and of the ancient Silk Road city of Kashgar before the Chinese government's crackdown.
Date Published :
May 2023
Publisher :
George F Thompson Publishing
Contributor(s) :
Kevin Bubriski, Tahir Hamut Izgil, Dru Gladney
Illustration :
128 illustrations: 116 duotone and 8 color photographs by the author and 4 historic maps
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781938086991
Pages : 248
Dimensions : 12 X 10.9 inches
Stock Status : Not Yet Published. Available for Pre-Order


In 1998, Kevin Bubriski was fortunate to spend time with the Uyghurs in Kashgar, their ancient city on the Silk Road in Xinjiang, China. While there, he made unforgettable photographic portraits and street scenes that reveal a haunting beauty and sense of the past in old Kashgar. Bubriski was drawn to the faces of ordinary people and their daily lives, with the intent that through photographs mutual understanding between people might be fostered. Although 1998 was an uncomfortable time of rapid transformation for the Uyghurs, their oasis city in the high desert was still vibrant, even as the Chinese government’s brutal crackdown was about to commence. In the last few years, up to a million Uyghurs have been detained in “re-education camps” while others have been subjected to forced sterilizations and wider persecution. The vibrancy, beauty, and grit that Bubriski witnessed and photographed more than two decades ago has irrevocably changed.

The Uyghur cultural, economic, familial, religious, and spiritual traditions are captured in Bubriski’s images and the extensive text by Tahir Hamut Izgil and the late Dru Gladney. These traditions, interwoven in Uyghurs’ lives and community for more than two millennia, have been severely impacted by the overt and disastrous policies of the Chinese government’s crackdown on Uyghur civil, spiritual, and cultural activities. The Uyghur community is now fractured and split due to widespread surveillance, mass detentions, and incarcerations. This book is also presented in a bilingual edition so that it is not only accessible to Uyghur people living in non-English-speaking regions of the world, but a way for Uyghurs around the world to reaffirm their cultural and social identity wherever they now live.

As many Uyghur families are now separated due to detentions or flight to asylum elsewhere, the book is meant to be an enduring gift for the Uyghur people and for all who wish to understand better Uyghur culture and history. Bubriski’s book is a stunning work of art that reveals an earlier time when Kashgar, beloved city of the Uyghurs, retained much of its traditional life and charm.

About The Author

Kevin Bubriski is a documentary photographer whose photographs are in the permanent collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Museum of Modern Art, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris, among others. He has received Guggenheim, Fulbright, National Endowment for the Arts, and Robert Gardner Peabody Museum Fellowships. Bubriski’s other books include Portrait of Nepal (1993), Pilgrimage: Looking at Ground Zero (2002), Nepal 1975–2011 (2014), Legacy in Stone: Syria before War (2018), Our Voices, Our Streets: American Protests 2001–2011 (2020), and Nepal Earthquake (2022). His Website is

Tahir Hamut Izgil is a prominent modernist Uyghur poet, filmmaker, and activist who grew up in Kashgar, in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region. He is recognized as one of the foremost poets writing in the Uyghur language. Additionally, he has directed numerous documentaries, music videos, advertisement campaigns, and feature films. Fearing persecution from Chinese authorities, he and his family sought asylum in the United States in 2017. His poetry has been translated into English, Japanese, Swedish, Turkish, and other languages. He is the current chair of the World Uyghur Writers Union.

Dru C. Gladney (1950–2022) was Professor of Anthropology at Pomona College where he also served as President of the Pacific Basin Institute. Gladney was the author of more than 100 academic articles and book chapters on topics spanning the Asian continent, and his books include Dislocating China: Muslims, Minorities, and Other Subaltern Subjects (Chicago, 2004), Ethnic Identity in China: The Making of a Muslim Minority Nationality (Wadsworth, 2003), Making Majorities: Constituting the Nation in Japan, China, Korea, Malaysia, Fiji, Turkey, and the U.S. (Stanford, 1998), and Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People’s Republic (Harvard, 1991).

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