I first came to Xinjiang in 1991 with a bicycle that I pedalled from Kashgar almost to China’s border with Pakistan, a story that is told in my book Among Warriors. In 1993, 1995, 1997, and 2000, I returned to Xinjiang–sometimes to pursue an archeology project that used synthetic aperture radar to search for ruins under the sands of the Taklamakan, sometimes just to travel and explore, and once on my way to Almaty and beyond. Sad to say, I never stayed long and was always an outsider.
Now, Xinjiang is the subject of worldwide attention, due to reports of mass detention of Muslims there. Yet if one searches the internet for images of ordinary life in the region, it is hard to find any that are not heavily staged, heavily PhotoShopped, or both. I do not know the recent chapters of Xinjiang’s story from first-hand experience. Nevertheless, I can share images of what has almost certainly vanished since I was there. That is the purpose of this post.
Text and images copyright 2022 by Pamela Logan. All rights reserved. If you wish to use a photo, please contact me.