A Critical Assessment of Zemiology’s Appropriateness in the Analysis of Atrocities and More Specifically the Situation Experienced by the Uyghurs in Xinjiang


  • Colomba Baird-Smith University of Edinburgh




Zemiology, Criminology, atrocity studies, Uyghur Community


The purposes of this paper are to assess whether the tools provided by zemiology contribute to positive ways forward in the field of atrocity studies beyond criminology and whether this proposed zemiological framework contributes to a furthered understanding of the situation experienced by the Uyghur community in Xinjiang. This paper argues that zemiology allows a valuable questioning and broadening of the criminological lens on episodes of atrocities. When applied to the case-study, two relevant zemiological tools (i.e., a state/elite defined and constructed perception of the concept of crime and Simon Pemberton’s three categories of social harm) allow the qualitative and quantitative improvement of our understanding of the volume and origins of the harms experienced by the Uyghur community. However, two main zemiological shortages are identified throughout this paper: an obsessive focus on the critique of criminology and a contradictive reproach about criminology’s ideological bias.