Colloquium: Transregional History | Dr. Janice Hyeju Jeong (Göttingen): Homeland and its Infrastructures: Mecca in the Imaginaries and Mobilities of Chinese Muslims in the Twentieth Century
Our guest speaker this week will be Dr. Janice Hyeju Jeong (Georg-August-Universität Göttingen), who will be speaking on the topic of “Homeland and its Infrastructures: Mecca in the Imaginaries and Mobilities of Chinese Muslims in the Twentieth Century.” Dr. Jeong is a historian and an anthropologist interested in transnational Islamic networks between China and the Arabian Peninsula, inter-Asian migrations, and mixed methods in anthro-history. She joined the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Göttingen in 2021 with broad research interests in formations of Islamic networks between China and the Arabian Peninsula, inter-Asian connections, and history and anthropology. She pursued her doctorate degree in History at Duke University, where she completed a thesis entitled “Between Shanghai and Mecca: Diaspora and Diplomacy of Chinese Muslims in the Twentieth Century.” The thesis utilized Mecca as a locational anchor and an analytical framework to trace the metamorphoses of religious and migratory networks of Chinese Muslims across mainland China, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia in the course of the twentieth century, and showed mobilizations of such networks as channels of informal diplomacy at moments of international war. To collect textual and ethnographic data, Jeong conducted multi-regional fieldwork in places including Jeddah, Riyadh, Linxia, Shanghai, and Taipei with the support of several grant agencies. She has had affiliations with the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Peking University, and New York University Shanghai.
An abstract of Dr. Jeong’s talk follows:
Mecca is often conceptualized as a destination for the hajj or a source of leverage for imperial states, Saudi national foreign policy, and Islamist movements. For studies of Islam in China, the pilgrimage to Mecca has been identified as a significant factor in initiating new waves of religious movements upon pilgrim-scholars' returns. While building on such transnational angles, the talk proposes to view Mecca as a convergence point for diaspora populations from across Asia, an intermediary site that has hosted and redirected mobilities of sojourners, refugees, and exiles throughout the manifold turnovers of the twentieth century. Specifically, I will focus on an eclectic community of first to third-generation Chinese Muslim settlers in the Hejaz (western coasts of the Arabian Peninsula) who themselves or whose predecessors arrived in the region at different points in time between the 1930s and 2010s — as pilgrims, exiles, and students. The talk shows that the variegated routes between Mecca and China, coupled with imaginaries of the city as a distant home place of origin, served as a rare constant orienting force that sustained two-directional mobilities of Chinese Muslim diasporas through the wars and revolutions of the modern times.
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