Gender, Sexuality and Women's Studies

Dr. Guldana Salimjan — Ruth Wynn Woodward Jr Chair (2020-2021)

May 08, 2020

Dr. Guldana Salimjan is the Ruth Wynn Woodward Junior Chair of the Gender, Sexuality, and Women's Studies Department. Guldana joins us from the University of British Columbia, where she completed her PhD at the Institute for Gender, Race, Sexuality, and Social Justice in 2018. She conducts interdisciplinary research with a focus on ethnicity, nationalism, gender, place, memory, and belonging in Chinese Central Asia. She teaches undergraduate and graduate courses on ethnic and gender politics in China, history and memories in Global Asia, and feminist research methods.

Her current book project focuses on the intertwined relations between gender, memory, and history under precarious political processes. Based on ethnographic analyses of Northern Xinjiang, China, Guldana tells a story of several generations of Kazakh women’s struggles against the backdrop of Mao era socialist revolution and contemporary ethnic politics in China. Guldana’s work highlights women’s experiences and their creative expressive arts and practices between contested Chinese state nationalism and Kazakh ethnonationalism, both imbued with male-centered historical and literary narratives. Her research and teaching draws on theories of settler colonialism, cultural studies, literary analysis, oral history, and ethnography as a lens to write a social history of ethnic Kazakhs’ survival and resilience through various Chinese social engineering projects carried out under the slogan of development and stability.

Guldana embeds her work deeply in the everyday gender and ethnic politics of Central Asia and aims to bring this lesser known region into discussions of Western academic feminism and Global Asia studies. Working on politically precarious places such as Xinjiang, Guldana abides feminist methodological training when exploring thorny issues of representation, ethics, and the production of knowledge. She has published research articles in Central Asia Survey and contributed essays to Central Eurasian Studies Society forum, Art of Life in Chinese Central Asia, and Radii ChinaGuldana’s second project examines communal authorship of Kazakh genealogy publications as a site of knowledge production entangled in imperial anthropological theories, local histories, oral literature, and folklore. This project analyzes genealogical narratives as a kaleidoscopic lens into the interactions of power, historical representation, and cultural memory.

Since 2017, the Chinese state and military authorities in Xinjiang have detained more than one million Muslim Uyghurs, Kazakhs, and members of other Indigenous groups in heavily policed re-education camps using the pretext of ‘counterterrorism.’ Guldana researches, documents, and publishes about this ongoing atrocity under the pen-name Yi Xiaocuo. You can find her publications in the journal Chinoiresie – Made in ChinaSupChina, and the edited volume Afterlives of Chinese Communism: Political Concepts from Mao to Xi. Besides academic knowledge production, Guldana also actively engages in public scholarship and community outreach. She founded the Camp Album, a multi-media documentation project that showcases art and literature related to the human rights abuse and cultural genocide in Xinjiang. This project aims to provide communal healing and solidarity for diasporic Muslim communities out of China. She is also the co-curator, translator, and researcher for the Xinjiang Documentation Project at UBC School of Public Policy and Global Affairs which systematically documents the ongoing mass incarceration of Turkic Muslims.

When Guldana is not researching and writing, she likes to walk on Vancouver’s beaches, watch sci-fi movies, do push-ups, find time to travel, and try new recipes.