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A Muslim Vision for the Chinese Nation: Chinese Pilgrimage Missions to Mecca during World War II


In the late 1930s, three groups of Sino-Muslims went on hajj trips to Mecca. Two of them represented the Republic of China, while one represented the puppet government in Japanese-occupied North China. Reflecting the political importance of the Muslim population in the Sino-Japanese struggle, each group engaged in propaganda efforts for its government. However the Sino-Muslims who participated in these missions were not merely the passive pawns of Chinese authorities. Rather, archival material and published sources in Chinese and Arabic show that Sino-Muslims actively used these missions to advance a vision of the Chinese nation in which Muslims would play an important role in domestic and foreign affairs. This vision was based on a particular understanding of global politics which allowed Sino-Muslim elites to reconcile the transnational characteristic of Islam with loyalty to the territorially bound “Chinese nation.”

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Prasenjit Duara . 1995. Rescuing History from the Nation: Questioning Narratives of Modern China. Chicago and London: The University of Chicago Press.

Prasenjit Duara . 1997. “Transnationalism and the Predicament of Sovereignty: China, 1900–1945.” American Historical Review 102 (4): 10301051.

Maris Boyd Gillette . 2000. Between Mecca and Beijing: Modernization and Consumption among Urban Chinese. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Jonathan Lipman . 1996. “Hyphenated Chinese: Sino-Muslim Identity in Modern China.” In Remapping China: Fissures in Historical Terrain eds. Gail Hershatter , 97112. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

Evelyn Rawski . 1998. The Last Emperors: A Social History of the Qing Imperial Institutions. Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press.

Jonathan Lipman . 2002. “How Many Minzu in a Nation? Modern Travellers Meet China's Frontier Peoples.” Inner Asia 4: 113130.

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The Journal of Asian Studies
  • ISSN: 0021-9118
  • EISSN: 1752-0401
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-asian-studies
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