Globalization and the Chinese Muslim Community in Southwest China

This paper examines two aspects of "globalization" in the Chinese Muslim (Hui) community in Yunnan Province, new mosque architecture and a new Islamic Studies Institute. The paper argues that while these developments may be seen as part of
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  Asia Pacific: Perspectives ∙ May 2011    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m    h   t   t  p  :   /   /  w  w  w .  p  a  c   i     c  r   i  m .  u  s   f  c  a .  e   d  u   /  r  e  s  e  a  r  c   h   /  p  e  r  s  p  e  c   t   i  v  e  s  Asia Pacific: Perspectives ∙ May 2011    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m    h   t   t  p  :   /   /  w  w  w .  p  a  c   i     c  r   i  m .  u  s   f  c  a .  e   d  u   /  r  e  s  e  a  r  c   h   /  p  e  r  s  p  e  c   t   i  v  e  s Asia Pacifc: Perspectives Editorial Board Editors Joaquin L Gonzalez  , University of San Francisco John K. Nelson  , University of San Francisco Editorial Consultants Hartmut Fischer  , University of San Francisco Editorial Board  Uldis Kruze  , University of San Francisco Man-lui Lau  , University of San Francisco Mark Mir  , University of San Francisco Noriko Nagata  , University of San Francisco Stephen Roddy  , University of San Francisco Kyoko Suda  , University of San Francisco Bruce Wydick  , University of San Francisco University of San Francisco Center for the Pacic Rim Angelina Chun Yee  , Professor and Executive Director   Asia Pacific: Perspectives ∙ May 2011    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m    h   t   t  p  :   /   /  w  w  w .  p  a  c   i     c  r   i  m .  u  s   f  c  a .  e   d  u   /  r  e  s  e  a  r  c   h   /  p  e  r  s  p  e  c   t   i  v  e  s Asia Pacifc: Perspectives Vume 10, Numbe 1 u My 2011  ARTICLES  E’s inucn   >>................................................John Nelson01 the Cnempy Gb Pc n Ecnmc Cnexf ineegus dgue ncung Chn n in   >>................................................Eric Hanson0 3 Gbzn, Nnsm, n Ken regn n he21s Cenuy   >>..................................................Don Baker 24 Gene n M Vsns n innes >>............................................Rachel Rinaldo 44 Gbzn n the Chnese Musm Cmmuny nSuhwes Chn >>............................................. Michael Brose 61 Mnnng Pens: Cmmuny ru n Pgmgen  dspc twnese amecn regus Cmmuny >>..............................................Jonathan Lee 81 See last page for subscription informationand submission guidelines. © 2011 University of San Francisco Center for the Pacic Rim  Asia Pacific: Perspectives ∙ May 2011    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m    h   t   t  p  :   /   /  w  w  w .  p  a  c   i     c  r   i  m .  u  s   f  c  a .  e   d  u   /  r  e  s  e  a  r  c   h   /  p  e  r  s  p  e  c   t   i  v  e  s Globalizaion and the Chinese Muslim Communiy / Brose   u 61 Gbzn n the Chnese MusmCmmuny n Suhwes Chn Michael C. Brose, Ph.D., University of Wyoming  ABSTRACT  Is globalization a good thing when it comes to religion and religious practice gener-ally in China? What contributions might globalization have on the practice of reli- gion, or more broadly, on social transformation, in China? Focusing more specically on Islam in China, is it also subject to forces of globalization? If so, will that encoun-ter result in more or less social and political power to Muslims in China? Is Islamantithetical to or a part of modernization? These are just some of the questions thatare raised in thinking about the role of Islam in China today as related to the themeof this special issue, “religion and globalization in Asia.” This paper uses two casestudies, recent mosque construction projects and the development of a new Instituteof Arabic Studies in Yunnan Province, China, to understand if and how global trendshave affected the Islamic community and practice of Islam in one region of China.Southwest China presents a unique context for the role of Islam in Chinese society because this area is largely free of the hot ethno-religious issues that plague other parts of China. Yunnan is also home to twenty-six ofcial minority groups, but of  these the Chinese Muslims have been largely ignored by scholars. It is clear, how-ever, that Chinese Muslims are becoming important economic and political actors inYunnan, judged by the kinds of mosques and educational activities they are sponsor-ing. They present an excellent opportunity to probe the impact of globalization onlocal forms of Islam, to understand how Islam might become a strategic social andpolitical resource for the Yunnan Chinese Muslim community, how identity politicsserves this group’s interests, and to demonstrate the importance of regional particu-larities in understanding “Islam in China.”  I  ntroductIon  When people discuss the impacts of globalization in and on China, they usu-ally point to such phenomena as the ubiquitous Starbucks and Kentucky FriedChicken stores and their local knockoffs that are springing up in every town.The implication of these observations is that this is essentially a “clash” betweenuniversal (read “western”) and national or local cultures, and one can only endup destroying the national or local culture. This same discourse has been appliedunevenly to writing about the state of religion in contemporary China, focusing,for example, on the spread of Protestant Christianity and the so-called housechurch movement, and equating all Muslims in China with world terrorism. Thispaper focuses on the state of Islam in China today. It is a compelling case studythrough which to problematize the impact of globalization on China, and it isperhaps one of the least understood aspects of religion in China by the rest of theworld.While it is a commonplace to treat Islam as a monolithic entity in China, infact, there are ten separate groups of Muslims in China. This paper focuses on a group of Muslims who are spread across all parts of China and are not identiedwith any one piece of territory or specic ethnic group. This ubiquitous group  Asia Pacific: Perspectives ∙ May 2011    D  o  w  n   l  o  a   d  e   d   f  r  o  m    h   t   t  p  :   /   /  w  w  w .  p  a  c   i     c  r   i  m .  u  s   f  c  a .  e   d  u   /  r  e  s  e  a  r  c   h   /  p  e  r  s  p  e  c   t   i  v  e  s Globalizaion and the Chinese Muslim Communiy / Brose   u 62 is usually known by its state-assigned name, the “Chinese or Han Muslims” (C.Huizu, 回族 ). In an effort to avoid the usual trap of treating all of China as thesame, we limit our discussion to the Chinese Muslims who live in the far south-western province of Yunnan. This paper argues that globalization has affected the Hui of Yunnan in some specic ways, but that that has not been at the expense of  local initiatives and identity. In fact, global and local trends reinforce each other,creating positive sites of engagement by and for these people in their local socialand political worlds. d efInIng  g  lobalIzatIon  The topic of globalization has been the focus of an enormous body of scholar- ship, and several denitions have emerged. Much of that scholarship assumes that it is a totalizing experience that changes the local environment withoutquestion and largely without the assent or cooperation of locals. Some of thisscholarship even seems to be a revived orientalism, substituting the national forlocal. Some recent studies, however, argue instead that particularized versionsor aspects of globalization and habitus meet in unique mediation points that result either in a rened reaction to (accommodation) or outright rejection of the globalizing force by locals, depending on whether the globalizing force allowsthe local community to choose and realize their desires. 1 One recent study on theeffects of globalization on Chinese cities captures the renewed emphasis on theactive agency of the local context especially well, arguing for a “bottom-up andtrans-local process embedded in national territories” to understand globalization. 2  Essentially, this is a call for a more nuanced understanding of the interaction of global and local forces, hinting that neither is all-powerful or monolithic.Another helpful way to conceptualize how globalization works in order tokeep the local in perspective is to use the metaphor of friction to describe the en-counter between the global and local, where this friction creates tension that can bepositive and productive as well as negative . 3 There are a variety of value spheres(religion, economy, politics, etc.) and each of these needs to be analyzed in com-ing to terms with globalization. In other words, we are seeking to build a model of globalization as a contextualized experience where different aspects of globaliza-tions interact with a number of locales. Each and every “global-local interactionis particular vis-à-vis (1) the elements of globalization and subjectivity, (2) the elective afnity or alienation [by the local community] of those elements, and (3) the community’s revaluation of the criteria of subjectivity given new possibilities…the greater the association between globalization and the absence of local political,economic, or cultural self-determination, the more militant and anti-humanist theresponse.” 4 Enacting this kind of multi-faceted approach to studying globalizingforces and local agency, even limited to the Yunnan Hui community, is a task too large for this paper. I have thus chosen two specic sites where this global-local interaction is most evident, the architecture of new mosques and a new school forIslamic studies, as case studies to begin with. d efInItIons  : c  hInese  M  uslIMs  One of the tasks of this paper is to question the typical monolithic readings of “China” and the “Chinese Muslims.” Muslims have been a part of China ever since
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