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“The Worldliest Minority: Chinese Muslims and the Global History of Guomindang Nation-Building, 1927-1949”

February 5, 2019 @ 12:00 pm - 1:30 pm

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Brown Bag Lecture

With John Chen, Lecturer and Wm. Theodore de Bary Postdoctoral Fellow, Heyman Center for the Humanities and Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University

Moderated by Eugenia Lean, Director, Weatherhead East Asian Institute; Associate Professor of Chinese history, Department of East Asian Languages and Cultures, Columbia University


At a time of empire-to-nation transitions across Asia, the same Chinese Muslims most responsible for reconnecting with Muslims outside China also played formative roles in state- and nation-building in China. This heterogeneous but cohesive network consisted of government officials, imams, military figures, merchants, educators, and scholars tied to the centers of power in China’s coastal cities. This network’s relationship with the Guomindang was backed by the influential Chinese Muslim warlords of Gansu, but the forms and consequences of that relationship went beyond simple hard power. Rather, the relationship produced new knowledge and new claims about Muslim identity that then informed further concrete actions on behalf of the state–in all cases, combining elements of transnational Islamic modernism with Chinese nationalism. Examples included Chinese Muslim political and military interventions in Tibet and Xinjiang, the production of patriotic propaganda in Arabic and Uyghur, the shared intellectual projects of certain Chinese Muslims and Han Chinese thinkers, the establishment of pro-state Muslim schools in strategic frontier territories, and the dispatching of Chinese Muslim diplomatic delegations to the Middle East and Southeast Asia during the Second Sino-Japanese War (1937-45). Throughout, new narratives of who the Muslims of China were both shaped and were shaped by the expansive, if not entirely coherent, aspirations of China’s first unified post-imperial state.


International Affairs Building, Room 918


No Registration Required

For press inquiries, please contact Ariana King ak4364@columbia.edu


February 5, 2019
12:00 pm - 1:30 pm
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