The province of Xinjiang (« new frontier » in chinese) is located in the far western region of China, it is the biggest province of the country and it is bordering 8 other countries such as Tajikistan and Afghanistan or India and Mongolia. Xinjiang has a long history of discord between China’s authorities and the Uighur ethnic minority. The Uighurs of Xinjiang are one of 55 minorities in China and they are ethnically and historically closer to the Muslim Turkic group of Central Asia.
As Xinjiang is a significant source of raw material and energy (40% of China’s coal), the central governement of China has been working hard on controlling and exploiting the resource rich Xinjiang by establishing a tight social, cultural and religious regulation system and by resettling millions of eastern Han chinese (the ethnic majority in China) into the wild western region of Xinjiang. It is called the « Go west » campaign.
Raphaël Fournier: Born 1978, Paris, France. After completing a Master’s degree in linguistics, Raphaël taught French in the U.K., Hong Kong and in mainland China before turning to photography in 2008 after an internship at Time magazine photo department. He currently resides and works in Paris after several years spent in Asia and more recently a year in Turkey, two countries on which his focus remains strong. Raphaël also developped a significant interest for urban related issues and developments.