A brief biography of Aziz Isa Elkun

Aziz Isa Elkun is a poet and academic, Researcher at SOAS, University of London. He was born in Shayar County in Uyghuristan (East Turkistan), and graduated from Urumchi University. He has been living in London since 2001, where he studied at Birkbeck University. He has published many poems, stories, and research articles in both Uyghur and and English language. 

In 2012, he published his first book “Journey from Danube river to the Orkhun valley” in Uyghur.

From 2013, he worked as a Research Assistant on the “Sounding Islam China” project in SOAS, University of London. In 2017, he published a Uyghur language research article arising from this fieldwork, titled “The Uyghurs are known in Central Asia for their laghmen”. 

He is an active member of the exiled Uyghur Community and founder of a Uyghur music group – the London Uyghur Ensemble, in 2006. Since September 2017, he has served as Secretary of the International PEN Uyghur Centre and as a director for the Uyghur PEN Centre Online Revitalisation Project.

He has co-authored English language articles with Rachel Harris, in Inner Asia and Central Asian Survey (‘Invitation to a Mourning Ceremony’: Perspectives on the Uyghur Internet and ‘Islam by Smartphone: the changing sounds of Uyghur religiosity’) and ‘Islam by smartphone: reading the Uyghur Islamic revival on WeChat’, Central Asian Survey 38(1), 2019, 61-80;  a book chapter published by The Routledge in 2022, “The Routledge Companion to Music and Human Rights” (‘Music, Terror, and Civilizing Projects in China’s Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region’).

From September 2018 to September 2022, he worked as a Researcher Affiliate on a British Academy Sustainable Development project, “Uyghur Meshrep in Kazakhstan”, based at SOAS, University of London. 

In early 2019, he produced a short documentary film, “An Unanswered Telephone Call”, depicting the ongoing sufferings of his family after China pursued a total blockade of international telephone calls between Uyghurs at home and abroad since 2017.

He has co-authored a research report with Rachel Harris published by Uyghur Human Rights Project February 2023 (The Complicity of Heritage: Cultural Heritage and Genocide in the Uyghur Region).

Since September 2023, he has worked as a Researcher on a project funded by UK Research and Innovation, “Maqam Beyond Nation,” based at SOAS, University of London. 

One of his major editing and poetry translation works is the “Uyghur Poems” anthology, which was published by the UK Everyman’s Library, an imprint of Penguin Random House, on 7 November 2023. He is a member of the English PEN.

Some of his research articles and opinion pieces that reflect the ongoing China’s Uyghur Genocide were published on various websites, newspapers, and magazines:

You can read poetry, academic and other literary works from his personal blog:  www.azizisa.org/en