UBC Theses and Dissertations

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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Islamic religiosity, revolution, and state violence in southwest China : the 1975 Shadian massacre Wang, Xian


The 1975 Shadian conflict was the largest religious rebellion of the Cultural Revolution, however, its political and social impacts have been neglected by both mainstream western scholars and the Chinese state-sponsored historical account. The event also has remained a controversial issue in China, in Yunnan, and of course in Shadian itself. The unresolved questions of the Shadian massacre and the inability of the Chinese government and local community to come to resolution are the focus of this thesis. By stressing the agency of the Shadian villagers and focusing on the interactions between the Shadian villagers and local authorities, it seeks to explain why the conflict between the Shadian Muslims and the government has persisted, even after the CCP redressed the massacre in 1979 and has changed its religious policies in order to cultivate Islamic revival in today’s Yunnan. Although the communist party-state has aimed to strengthen the socio-political stability of China by undertaking state-sponsored projects, such as rebuilding mosques, opening Islamic schools and so forth, to encourage public practice of Islam in Shadian; it maintains the Cultural Revolution-period mentality (radical secularism and atheism) and continues to deny Islamic religion as the very fundamental virtue that shapes the way the Shadian Muslims understand their religious—Muslim (rather than ethnic—the Hui) identities and the way in which they interact with the communist state. The conflicts and struggles between the Shadian Muslims and the CCP government in the Mao and the post-Mao period reflect the constant power dynamics between the local authorities’ denial of the religious centrality of Islam and the determination of Shadian villagers to define their ethnic identities based on Islam. While the CCP denies the religious motivation of the Shadian Muslim’s resistance by constantly regarding the villagers as reactionaries who always intended to make a disturbance, the Shadian villagers continues to emphasize their Muslim identities by regarding their resistance against the local authorities as religiously glorious and just, meaningful in just the sense that Geertz suggested. As a result, down to today, the mutual understanding between the CCP authorities and the Muslim communities therefore has not been established.

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