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Strategies of Resistance and Refusal: The Politics of Citizenship, Indigeneity, and Historiography in Post-Mao China

March 18, 2023

5:45 PM - 7:15 PM

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Amidst state-sponsored colonization and assimilation, China’s indigenous ethno-religious minorities have negotiated their identities, status and citizenship in complex and mediated ways. Taking the post-Mao period since the 1980s as their focus, the four studies in this panel examine the struggles that minorities groups across China’s northwest, southwest, and northeast regions have undergone, and the strategies they have adopted, in response to anti-Muslim racism, ethnic assimilation, and dispossession of indigenous groups’ ancestral land and resources. Piecing together their polyphonic responses to the cyber neologism “muhei” (“Muslim haters”) through participant observation, interviews, and life histories, Jing Wang examines the intimate, embodied, and mediated ways in which Sinophone Muslims interpret anti-Muslim racism. Focusing on a Central Asian politics of refusal in the face of dispossession by the Chinese state, Guldana Salimjan investigates the ways in which Turkic Muslim Kazakhstani citizens in Xinjiang have inserted themselves into negotiations between Kazakhstan and the Xinjiang government over the issues of citizenship and ancestral land entitlement. Applying the question of indigeneity to China’s southwest region of Guizhou Province, Yu Luo addresses Tai-speaking Buyi intellectuals’ intervention in the historiography of imperial expansion and assimilation through their use of oral histories, ritual and genealogical records, and contemporary heritage promotions to claim indigeneity and ethnic distinctiveness from the Han settler population. Martin Fromm examines historiographical controversies and debates in China’s northeast borderlands, comparatively evaluating the perspectives of Han and ethnic minority intellectuals in co-constructing and counterposing narratives of ethnic diversity, assimilation, and particularity during the post-Mao transition in the 1980s.

Organizer/Chair
Martin T Fromm

Discussant
Michael J Hathaway

Presentations

An Ordinary Anthropology of Muhei: Islamophobia with Chinese Characteristics in Post-Mao China
Jing Wang

Weaponized Citizenship: Negotiating Indigeneity between China and Kazakhstan
Guldana Salimjan, Indiana University

Claiming Indigeneity: The Paradox of Frontier Identities in Guizhou, Southwest China
Yu Luo, University of Puget Sound

Debating Destiny: Post-Mao Politics of Re-Situating Ethnic Minorities in China's Northeast Borderlands
Martin T Fromm, Worcester State University

Inteviews and Podcasts

Interviews and Podcasts

February 5th, 2023