Islam in Translation: Muslim Reform and Transnational Networks in Modern China, 1908-1957

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Islam in Translation: Muslim Reform and Transnational Networks in Modern China, 1908-1957

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Title: Islam in Translation: Muslim Reform and Transnational Networks in Modern China, 1908-1957
Author: Eroglu Sager, Zeyneb Hale ORCID  0000-0003-3700-6791
Citation: Eroglu Sager, Zeyneb Hale. 2016. Islam in Translation: Muslim Reform and Transnational Networks in Modern China, 1908-1957. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University, Graduate School of Arts & Sciences.
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Abstract: This dissertation investigates Chinese Muslim (Hui) intellectual currents from the late Qing dynasty to the early years of the Communist Republic, 1908–1957. By analyzing a vast number of Muslim reformist journals, Chinese translations of Islamic sources, and diaries/memoirs of intellectuals who were connected to other zones of the Islamic world, I examine the process by which reformists sought to redefine Chinese Muslim identity and revive “true principles of Islam”—both in negotiation with the Chinese state and in conversation with local and transnational intellectual currents. In particular, this dissertation considers the ways in which intellectuals struggled to “awaken” Chinese Muslims so as to transform their past identity as Muslim subjects of the Qing Empire into “politically conscious and active” citizens of the Chinese Republic. Chinese Muslims were defined either as a religious community or an ethnic group (minzu), and this debate occupied the minds of reformist intellectuals in this period, the topic of the first two chapters. How it was settled would determine the political, social, and religious status of the Muslim community in China, where definitions of nation and ethnicity/race were constantly reassigned. Debates concerning Muslim integration into China hinged on their connection to the global Muslim community (umma). Newly introduced technologies of travel and communication, such as the steamship and print, facilitated Chinese Muslims’ participation within transnational and cross-confessional networks. I argue that it was through the selection, appropriation, and adaptation of ideas from the prominent centers of the Islamic world that these intellectuals navigated a path of integration in the Chinese context that did not put their distinct Muslim identity at risk. From these diverse sources, they were determined to find solutions to the challenges they faced in China—whether posed by the hegemonic discourse of the Nationalist Party or the iconoclastic New Culture Movement. In successive chapters, I focus on the intellectual connection of Chinese Muslims to the Kemalist secularism of Turkey, the Ahmadi movement of India, and Egyptian reformist currents. Thus, I demonstrate how a seemingly “peripheral” Muslim community in the Far East participated in complex transnational networks at a critical moment of transformation.
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Citable link to this page: http://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:33493376
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