“Modernization and Ethnicity in Urban China: A study of urban renewal projects in Hui minority neighborhoods”

Contemporary China is a rapidly urbanizing society. As the state attempts to revitalize cities’ aging infrastructure through programs of urban renewal, many social and political challenges arise, especially when such efforts for renewal occur in ethnic minority neighborhoods. How do minority residents view such transformations of their neighborhoods? Do such projects activate ethnic boundaries, thus ethnicizing the process of urban renewal? This project utilizes qualitative data drawn from 151 interviews with various members of the community, including imams, entrepreneurs, scholars, and members of local Islamic associations; and ethnographic observations conducted at community locations such as mosques, markets, museums, and businesses in four cities (Beijing, Jinan, Yinchuan, and Xining) between July 2015 and July 2016. I find that migration from rural communities to concentrated urban enclaves (that frequently occurs during urban redevelopment) leads to interactions between Hui from different communities, and ultimately results in renewed contestation among residents regarding the content of Hui identity, and to internal boundary setting within the Hui community itself.

Published Works

  • “Boundaries of Belief: Religious Practices and the Construction of Ethnic Identity in Hui Muslim Communities,” Ethnic and Racial Studies 40, no. 6 (2017): 988-1006
  • ‘Beautiful Country’(美国), An experimental study,” The China Quarterly 224 (December 2015):1070-1082 (With Peter H. Gries, Matthew A. Sanders and Huajian Cai)
  • “Everyday Nationalism: Constructivism for the Masses” Social Science Quarterly 96, no. 3 (September 2015): 717-739 (with J. Paul Goode)

Working Papers

  • “‘Our Qur’ans all have Chinese characters’: everyday language, literacy, and ethnic identity in urban Hui communities”
  • “‘Conversion must come from your heart’: citizenship, ethnicity, faith, marriage and choosing Hui identity in urban spaces”
  • “Drawing Lines Between Devotion and Danhua: Contesting Hui ethnic identity in the midst of China’s rural-to-urban migration”

Conference Presentations

  • “‘Real Qingzhen restaurants only use clean ingredients’: the role of Islam, purity, and diet in the formation of Hui identity” (presented at the 22nd Annual Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities 5/2/17)
  • “’Without Islam, we’re not Hui’: Islamic faith, daily rituals, and the performance of Hui identity” (presented at the Ethnographies of Islam in China Conference  at SOAS, London, 3/27 to 3/29/17)
  • “‘Seek knowledge even unto China’: using naivety as a strategy for studying everyday ethnicity in Chinese Islamic communities.” (presented at the annual meeting of the International Studies Association, 2/24/17)
  • “Bridging the gap between minzu and umma: Islamic faith and Hui identity in contemporary China” (presented at the 20th Annual Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities 4/24/15)
  •  “Inter-Ethnic Relations and regime legitimation in China: An Examination of Han- Hui Relationships in China’s Cities” (presented at the Southern Political Science Association Annual Conference 1/15 to 1/17/15)
  •  “Modernization and Ethnic Identity in Urban China” (presented at 19th Annual World Convention of the Association for the Study of Nationalities 4/24 to 4/26/14)
  •  “Violence, Regime Legitimation and the Media in Xinjiang: An examination of state-media coverage of the 2009 Urumqi Riots” (presented at The Royal Netherlands Academy Masterclass: The ‘New Authoritarianism’: Russia and China in Comparative Perspective 11/27/13)
  • “Ethnicity and Maintaining the Chinese State,” (presented as part of the Roundtable “Identity and Legitimation in Authoritarian Regimes” at the annual meeting of the Oklahoma Political Science Association 11/8/2013)
  • “Sightseeing in ‘Other Chinas’: tourism, development, ethnic identity and state-society relations in China’s southwest,” (presented at The Midwest Political Science Association 2013 Annual Conference 4/14/13)