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Dr Hannah Theaker Virtual Lecture
16 March 2021 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm GMT
China’s Little Mecca: Changing Islamic Landscapes of China’s Northwest in the Late Qing, 1860-1911
The events often known as the Great Northwestern Muslim Rebellion, 1860-1874, devastated the Islamic communities of the interior northwestern provinces of Shaanxi and Gansu. Long-established Islamic communities were wiped off the map, whilst the resettlement of refugees and post-war bans on Muslim movement and residence reconfigured the contours of the religious landscapes of late Qing China. Hezhou, now known as Linxia, is famous in the present as ‘China’s Little Mecca’, was the only major Islamic religious centre in the two provinces left standing. The result was a transformation of the ecumenical scene of the northwest. As Shaanxi Muslims rebuilt from scratch in their new communities, the Hezhou Muslim military leadership used their close relationships to the local establishment and prestige to usher in a religious revival in their localities: building mosques and inviting preachers and educators and constructing a safe space for Islam within the ambiguous spaces of late Qing empire. This presentation explores this brief efflorescence in the Hezhou scene, the significance of the 1895 He-Huang Rebellion as an event in the construction of a Chinese Islamic reformism and the legacies of the late 19th century for the modern Islamic landscape of the northwest.
Dr. Hannah Theaker is a Visiting Fellow at the University of Oxford China Centre, whose research explores religion, ethnicity and migration in late imperial China.