Darren Byler

(Anthropology PhD Student, University of Washington)

Iím interested in the phenomenology of urban life as expressed through the visual, material culture and the built environment in Northwest China and Central Asia. Having completed an M.A. in East Asian Studies at Columbia University in 2009 and a year of language study in China in 2010, my current research analyzes sites of cultural performance and levity which coexist with the militarized state, widespread cultural displacement and the pervasive atmosphere of ethnic and economic violence in the region. Future projects will focus on the art community of Urumqi centered around government-sponsored and market-subsidized art districts. Iím fascinated with the ways in which differently positioned artists, musicians, and poets express cultural values in the desert and mountain landscapes of Central Asia and how these performances are in turn related to understandings of human ecology and politics.