Cover of Unruly Speech by Saskia Witteborn
Unruly Speech
Displacement and the Politics of Transgression
Saskia Witteborn


January 2023
250 pages.
from $28.00

Hardcover ISBN: 9781503633391
Paperback ISBN: 9781503634305

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Based on a long-term ethnography in China, the United States and Germany,Unruly Speech explores how Uyghurs in China and in the diaspora transgress sociopolitical limits with "unruly" communication practices in a quest for change. Saskia Witteborn situates her study against the backdrop of displacement as a communicative and spatial phenomenon and focuses on how naming practices and witness accounts can operate as tools of activism, resistance, and communication. She does this by drawing on the voices of Uyghurs from three continents: East Asia, North America, and Europe. Moreover, she analyzes social media, literatures on surveillance and digitized witness accounts to examine the way Uyghurs, their supporters and the Chinese state each use technology to their own ends: to set limits and to cross over those limits, respectively. The book provides a granular view of disruptive communication: its sociopolitical moorings and socio-technical control. Findings in this book inform studies of migration and displacement, language and social interaction, advocacy and digital surveillance, and a transnational China.

About the author

Saskia Witteborn is Associate Professor in the School of Journalism and Communication at The Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK). She coauthored the SAGE Handbook of Media and Migration (2020) and Together: Communicating Interpersonally: A Social Construction Approach (6th ed., 2005).