Tuerhong Guliniali

Designer | Researcher | Curator
Tuerhong Guliniali is a Uyghur Chinese designer, researcher, and curator from Urumqi, Xinjiang, China. Following her undergraduate studies at Pitzer College, Tuerhong applies her critical media studies research interest into the intersection of design and technology at Parsons. Tuerhong’s design research focuses on technology & machine learning, race as technology, and poetic storytelling in understanding reclamation of self within and beyond digital media.
Thesis Faculty
Nancy ValladaresJesse HardingFran Hoepfner

What Is Your Name?

What Is Your Name? Landing Page

Concept Statement

What Is Your Name? is an interactive website that explores the narrative  of one’s relationship with their names and digital presence. By sharing personal stories from different cultural diasporas in North America, the project contains transcribed conversations that are led by interview questions with the attempts to find connections between name identification in an anglicized environment on and off digital platforms. The website sheds light on the concept of “digital selves” and how they influence the perception of one’s name in digital spaces (e.g. social media handles, email addresses, usernames). Ultimately, the project investigates the potential of digital spaces for reclaiming cultural identity through names. 


The driving force behind this project, on a personal level, is my experience navigating the use of my given name while growing up in systems that do not legally register my name in my mother tongue. Growing up in China, my name was transliterate from Uyghur (Gülnihal) to Mandarin (古丽尼阿丽, Guliniali). Lost in transliteration, the meaning of Gulnihal, “rose sprout,” was not shown through the sound of Guliniali. Adapting to my name Guliniali, most of my classmates would call me Guli for short, as my first name is too long in comparison to the general Mandarin speaking population. After coming to the United States for high school, I decided to anglicize my Mandarin name to Niyal. Losing a part of the pronunciation due to transliteration from Uyghur to Mandarin, I thought the roman letter spelling of my name was Gulniyal which I changed to short after my English name Niyal. It was not until 2022 that I learned that my name is spelled Gulnihal, given to me by my grandmother. As I go through the journey of reconnecting to my given name, I have been using my social media platforms to express my identity. On a digital visibility level, this research is motivated by reclamation of identity through digital spaces. In attempting to provide an intersectional viewpoint between anglicization of names and reclamation of cultural based identity, this thesis research asks the question: “Without the restriction of legal name documentation, can digital space be an alternative to reclaim cultural identity through inputting given names in mother tongue?” To answer this question, the research puts digital names in the context of culture as technology, and analyzes interview findings across different cultural and social experiences within anglicized environments.


What Is Your Name? manifests in the form of a personal narrative-focused, interactive website. The website is composed of selected one-on-one interviews with participants to highlight the possible connection between anglicization of names and the process of reclaiming one’s identity in the digital sphere. The final website displays personal stories and highlights the narrative aspect of the research, rather than data collection. The selected interviews are a component structure for gathering larger participant inputs to discover connection between one’s given or chosen name and online digital handles. The selected interviews are results of returned outreach from the survey participants. Each featured story also includes a short voice recording of participants speaking on the pronunciation and meaning behind their names. The website also includes participants who have submitted their story but were not involved in the interview part of the project.