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As the author states at the beginning of the book, his work aims to help readers deepen their understanding of the everyday lives of Muslims and the current situation of religious activities in China.

China urban: ethnographies of contemporary culture - Nancy N. Chen - Google Books

Part of what makes this work so ambitious is that it asks us to think through the complicated realities of everyday life among Muslim communities in contemporary China. Another important contribution of this study is that it demonstrates the fluidity and ambiguity of the definition of the Hui and of the boundary between the Hui and Han peoples.

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Indeed, it reveals that Muslims in contemporary Yunnan regard the Hui as an ethnic category and distinguish it from Muslims, which they recognize as a religious category. Interestingly, contrary to the common sense in China that the Hui people are Muslims, the subjects of this book prefer to position themselves as Muslims, while they use the term Hui in the context of denial.

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This discovery asks us to reconsider how we might understand the complicated relation between ethnicity and religion in general. Nevertheless, although Nara supplies a solid and in-depth analysis of various aspects of religious activities among the Hui people in present-day Yunnan, his study contains a serious omission. In his surveys of the conception and definition of Han, the author did not adequately explore previous scholarship on how the term had been invented and used throughout history—both by those who regard themselves as Han Chinese and by those who claim to be non-Han, despite the depth that such studies would have provided his investigation.

Yet at the same time, China is often represented as being shackled by its deep-rooted traditions and long history. This course critically engages with both of these characterizations.

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In so doing, the course introduces students to a wide range of classic and emerging themes in the anthropology of China, providing them with a strong foundation for further study and research. Each of these focuses on major cultural and social aspects, but varies in detail according to the characteristics of and scholarship on the region.

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These 0. Developing regional expertise is a key component of the study of anthropology, and central to programmes across the school. The learning outcomes are designed to ensure that students develop a solid grounding in the anthropology of East Africa, refine their ability to critically engage diverse literatures and communicate their knowledge in a variety of ways. These processes of comprehension, analysis and communication are central to all anthropology programmes, as well as to the broader humanities and social sciences at SOAS.

This course will assume a basic knowledge of Chinese history, especially since the late-nineteenth century.

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The following readings will be helpful both to fill in historical knowledge and to offer an overview of contemporary Chinese society and culture:. Additionally, you may wish to familiarize yourself with one or two ethnographies, for example:.