Boundaries of Belief: Religious Practices and the Construction of Ethnic Identity in Hui Muslim Communities

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Abstract

Though scholars of ethnicity remark that religion is an important qualifying attribute for membership in an ethnic group, the nature of the relationship between religious faith and ethnic identity requires further exploration. An approach that emphasizes the importance of religious practices in forming and maintaining ethnic boundaries may offer a more complete explanation of the relationship between religion and ethnicity. This article proposes a framework for understanding how religious practices influence ethnic boundary formation and maintenance processes. I propose that religious practices may play a universalizing, negotiating, or differentiating role in influencing the formation and maintenance of ethnic boundaries. To illustrate these various roles played by religious processes, the article presents a heuristic case study of Islamic faith in boundary setting processes in Hui Muslim communities in China.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)988-1006
JournalEthnic and racial studies
Volume40
Issue number6
Early online date7 Jun 2016
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 2017

Keywords

  • religion
  • ethnic boundaries
  • everyday ethnicity
  • Hui
  • Islam
  • China

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