Images of a Vanishing Culture

A photo essay from western Xinjiang – Naomi Goddard

Editor’s note: Shaped by their historical position along the ancient silk road, the Uyghurs of Xinjiang have developed a unique culture and identity. While the news is dominated by the re-education camps that attempt to instill in them a standardized identity in line with the PRC, we want to remind readers of their original culture that is under threat, and that Xinjiang is more than its politics. Islam plays a crucial role in Uyghur society, as do values of hospitality to strangers and local community alike. Photographer Naomi Goddard was interested in Uyghur traditions of community and its importance in their everyday work and social life. During her visits to Xinjiang in 2016 and 2017, she witnessed locals carrying out their daily tasks as a collective, from trading livestock to getting their hair cut, and has collected some of her images below. – Alec Ash