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Title:Longstanding natives and dispersed minorities: Sino-Muslims, public culture, and identification in Late Imperial China, 1600-1912
Author(s):Zhang, Shaodan
Director of Research:Chow, Kai-wing
Doctoral Committee Chair(s):Chow, Kai-wing
Doctoral Committee Member(s):Shao, Dan; Dann, Michael; Brose, Michael
Department / Program:E. Asian Languages & Cultures
Discipline:East Asian Languages and Cultures
Degree Granting Institution:University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Subject(s):Late imperial China
Islam in China
Chinese Muslims
Abstract:This study examines the process in which acculturated and dispersed Sino-Muslims in late imperial China came to develop a sense of collectivity through participating in a public culture they shared with other Chinese people from the 1600s to the 1900s. During the late imperial period, increasing mobility, deepening commercialization, and intensified urbanization in China proper had fostered the growth of a “public culture” which consisted of various social networking forms and practices. Since the early 17th century, similar to their Han Chinese neighbors, “Sino-Muslims” (i.e. Muslims living in the heartland of China since the 7th century) in different regions also began to vigorously organize a variety of religious and secular associations and networks at local (e.g. mosques and lineages), translocal (e.g. merchant associations and gentry networks), and China-wide (e.g. the network of Islamic schools and circulation of Islamic printed books) levels. Sino-Muslims who were political and social elites in the Chinese mainstream society, such as the gentry and merchants, often took the lead in the establishment and management of these associations and networks by serving as pivotal sponsors. They played an important role in shaping these associations and networks based on popular Han Chinese models and creating the space for the Sino-Muslim public to integrate themselves into the Qing state and Chinese society. At the same time, instead of causing a decline in Islamic belief among Sino-Muslims, these associations and networks also provided more ingenious and extensive venues and methods for them to interact with one another and to identify themselves with Islam. Through these associations and networks and their respective means of cultural production and circulation, accordingly, dispersed Sino-Muslims got connected both tangibly and intangibly. By the first half of the 19th century, a sense of collectivity—based on common memory, shared discourses on gender and law, as well as a body of indigenous Chinese Islamic knowledge—came to develop among them, transcending regional differences. It distinguished Sino-Muslims not just from non-Muslims in China proper, but more significantly from Muslims outside China proper. This study, on the one hand, brings China into the history of global Islam and challenges the widely held assumption that secularization of Muslims of necessity leads to a decline of Islamic faith. On the other hand, it brings Islam into Chinese history and highlights the neglected agency of Sino-Muslims in the multiethnic and multireligious configuration of the Qing empire and the socio-economic formation of early Chinese modernity. Furthermore, it examines the issue of identity in a hugely complex social milieu where a collective—without any label or category to demarcate itself—gradually took shape in numerous daily processes of identification. Lastly, this study wishes to break the conventional image of Muslims in Qing China as violent rebels and to give voice back to ordinary Muslims in history.
Issue Date:2021-07-14
Rights Information:Copyright 2021 Shaodan Zhang
Date Available in IDEALS:2022-01-12
Date Deposited:2021-08

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