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Orwell Day

The Ubiquitous Eye: Digital Surveillance in Xinjiang

Orwell Day 2021

Debate

Orwell Day 2021 will examine the regime of digital surveillance deployed in the Chinese province of Xinjiang by means of the documentary Undercover: Inside China’s Digital Gulag and a conversation between a journalist who writes for The New Yorker, Ben Mauk, and Manel Ollé, expert on modern and contemporary China. Moreover, you can enjoy the traditional literary routes through Orwell’s Barcelona.

According to several studies by human rights organisations, among them Amnesty International, it has been calculated that, in recent years, almost a million Uyghurs and other Muslim minorities have been interned in re-education camps in the Xinjiang region. Experts regard this as one of the most serious ethnic- and religious-based persecutions since the Second World War, although it is difficult to substantiate because of the Chinese government’s tight control of information and the problems entailed when trying to speak directly with those affected. In Xinjiang, the population is monitored by an extensive surveillance network with video cameras, obligatory mobile phone apps, and QR codes, as well as a permanent presence of military and police forces in the streets. What do we exactly know about what is happening in Xinjiang? After a year of living with the pandemic during which the digital technologies have become even more present in everyday life, what does the experience of the Uyghurs tell us about the role of technology in future social control?

Speaking in this session is the journalist Ben Mauk, one of the few people who has been able to investigate what is happening in the Xinjiang region and who, for his work, which is financed by the Pulitzer Center and published in The New Yorker, has received several prizes, including the Jamal Khashoggi Award and the New York University Award for Investigative Reporting.

His account of the situation will be accompanied with the screening of Undercover: Inside China’s Digital Gulag (Robin Barnwell, 60 min), one of the rare documentaries made on this subject and winner of the 2020 Current Affairs BAFTA Award. This will be its first public screening in Spain.

 

Literary routes through Orwell’s Barcelona

Led by the photographer Ricard Martínez, the lecturer and guide Nick Lloyd, and the lecturer in History Paula León, you can follow in the footsteps of Orwell in Barcelona, recalling the main real-life situations he experienced and later described in Homage to Catalonia.

You can register in one of the following three groups with routes that start at Metro Drassanes, exit La Rambla.

31 May at 4 p.m., route in Catalan.

1 June at 10 a.m., route in English.

2 June at 4 p.m., route in Spanish.

Duration: 2 hours. Free of charge. Registration is required, and places are limited.

 

Other Orwell Day 2021 activities

George Orwell and la Rambla de Barcelona. 1 June at 12 a.m.

Reading of Homage to Catalonia extracts with Miquel Berga, Ricard Martínez, Nick Lloyd, Fernando Casal, Carlota Canal and Maria Antonia Ferrer in front of the cafè Moka in la Rambla.

The Orwell Day is an initiative developed since its beginnings with the Orwell Day Collective and that is celebrated in collaboration with the PEN Català.

 

Participants: Ben Mauk, Manel Ollé

This activity is part of Orwell Day

Related contents

Ben Mauk and Manel Ollé

The Ubiquitous Eye: Digital Surveillance in Xinjiang

As part of the 2021 Orwell Day, the journalist for The New Yorker Ben Mauk, one of the few people who has been able to investigate the regime of digital surveillance deployed in the Chinese province of Xinjiang,  and Manel Ollé, expert on modern and contemporary China talk about the role of technology in future social control.

Watch the video

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