WHERE HAVE ALL THE REVOLUTIONARIES GONE? HUMAN RIGHTS AND THE REINVENTION OF REVOLUTION IN REBIYA KADEER’S DRAGON FIGHTER

Katharine Lu

Abstract


For five and half years, Rebiya Kadeer was imprisoned as a political prisoner in China and was finally released in 2005 after Amnesty International campaigned for her release. Today, she now campaigns as a human rights activist against what many Uyghurs consider Chinese occupation of their homeland, Xinjiang. Although many organizationswork on human rights violations against the Uyghurs, Rebiya Kadeer has emerged as the primary symbol of Uyghur resistance in China, much like the Dalai Lama for Tibet.Her simultaneous position as both a human rights activist and resistance symbol offers a unique vantage point in exploring the relationship between memory, women, and nationalism. In sketching out these connections, this paper will analyze the agency and representation in the process of memory making and the gendering of resistance in relation to the life and memoir of Rebiya Kadeer. The political project of witnessing through representation offers a practical departure point for better understanding the formation of a feminine revolutionary subjectivity in contrast to the romanticized icon of the masculine, revolutionary hero. In proposing the relationship between memory, women and nationalism, this paper aims to ultimately understand whether the revolutionary subject has in effect become the human rights activist. And if this is the case, what then are the conditions for revolution, and is revolution possible within the logic of human rights discourse?

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