Theses Doctoral

Hui Nation: Islam and Muslim Politics in Modern China

Glasserman, Aaron Nathan

This study examines the modern history of the Hui to understand how China, a multiethnic empire-turned-nation-state, has shaped and been shaped by its many “others,” particularly its ethnic and religious minorities. The Hui, as millions of Chinese-speaking Muslims scattered throughout China are known, are unique among the People’s Republic of China’s 55 officially recognized minorities in sharing nothing in common other than a religious identity, Islam. Moreover, unlike Tibetans and Mongolians in the PRC and many minorities in other post-imperial states, the Hui inherited no system of representation from the dynastic era. This lack of political institutionalization through the Qing reign should draw attention to what remains an underexamined period in Hui history—from the fall of the Qing to the founding of the PRC in 1949—and an unexamined question—How did the Hui become a nation?

Focused on the large, inland province of Henan, Hui Nation tells this story. I show that Hui nationhood was not simply an elaboration of Communist ethnic policy but rather the consequence of a bottom-up social movement. Incorporating cultural and organizational change into social history, I further argue that this movement hinged on changes in Huis’ understanding of Islam and in the institutions that connected them to one another in the first half of the twentieth century.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Thesis Advisors
Zelin, Madeleine H.
Ph.D., Columbia University
Published Here
July 28, 2021