Michael Clarke, Governmentality and the politics of exclusion in Xinjiang, East Asia Forum: Economics, Politics and Public Policy in East Asia and the Pacific
China is undertaking a program of mass incarceration of the Uyghur population in its far north-western province of Xinjiang (East Turkestan to Uyghurs) in a system of region-wide detention in re-education or vocational training centres. Central to the operation of what some observers have termed a ‘carceral state’ in Xinjiang has been the fusion of governmentality and a Schmittian politics of exclusion with 21st century technological innovation.
An examination of the operation of this system of mass repression reveals that the CCP’s treatment of the Uyghur population in Xinjiang is animated by governmentality, the politics of exclusion and new surveillance technologies.
Governmentality, as Michel Foucault argued, concerns the problem of government in its broadest sense. For Foucault ‘to govern … is to control the possible field of action of others’. The CCP has long sought to direct the conduct of its citizens in a manner that manages and controls their ‘possible field of action’.