Ethnographies of Islam in China

27-29 March 2017   SOAS, University of London



Recent decades have seen increasing global connectedness and rapid changes in Islamic belief and practice in China, across a sphere characterised by great diversity in histories of transmission, socio-economic factors, language and life-ways. What insights can ethnographic research bring to bear on the nature of these changes? What new perspectives can be gained from fieldwork-based approaches to religious experience and meaning? This international conference aims to bring together scholars working across disciplinary boundaries to examine the benefits and challenges of fieldwork-based ethnographic research on Islam in China. A peer-reviewed, edited volume arising from the conference is planned. Themes for proposals include:


How can we best attend to local explanations and local debates? What are the possibilities for, and the politics of, participatory ethnography and collaborative research? What are the uses of film as a research tool? What insights can a focus on sensory experience and embodied practice provide? Where access is denied or contact places people at risk, what alternative research methodologies are possible?


To what extent, and in what ways, are revivalist movements in China linked to external forces, or driven by local interests, affiliations and histories? What symbolic geographies of faith and practice do Muslims in China imagine and inhabit? How do they negotiate the normative requirements of religion and state? How relevant to the Chinese sphere are the analytical frames of ethical self-cultivation, and everyday Islam?


How do gender and ethnicity intersect with religious identities? Do new religious identities maintain or cross ethnic boundaries? Are Muslim women in China repositories of tradition or agents of change? How can we explain the resurgence of a culture of female-dominated Islamic piety in central China? What new forms of masculinity are associated with the Islamic revival?


What is the significance of media forms in the creation and transmission of religious knowledge? How do religious ideologies shift and become reconstituted as they flow across borders? In what ways are discourses of authenticity and tradition used to legitimize new practices, or to support existing power structures? How do state practices of heritage management map onto religious life?


Paper proposals should include a title and an abstract of 300 words, and be sent to Rachel Harris:

Deadline: 1 November 2016

Limited funding for travel and accommodation is available to participants who cannot access full support from their home institutions. Please let us know when you submit your proposal if you would like to be considered for this funding.


Categories: Conference, Events

Tags: , , , , ,


  All rights reserved © Sounding Islam China  (SiC)  2013.