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East Asian Religiosity
Ethnic Religion
Case studies
and invited
on religious circulations and
influences between China and the
rest of Eurasia
Scroll downwards / Click on the map
to explore the cases being research by the
BRINFAITH collaborators and guest speakers
Urban Hubs
Taking urban hubs as a focal point, this section examines the intricate yet largely overlooked relationship between religious circulation and urban space, exploring how the entanglement between religious practices, urban development and urban social changes involves transnational circulations both of religious cultures and policy discourses. Cities such as Hong Kong (Ho and Maarif), Guangzhou (Frankel) and Dubai (Wang), with their historical legacy and/or future-looking ambitions, continue to serve as strategic hubs that reinforce transnational religious exchange.
Inter-Asian Learning And Teaching Across The Belt And Road: In-Between Pakistani Madrasah And Chinese School
Hong Kong Islam
HO Wai Yip
Driven by the steady increase of the Muslim population, ethnic Muslims in Hong Kong have been desperately seeking physical space for daily prayer and reciting Qur’an. Out of the strong religious aspiration, many small-scale madrasah (‘housques’) have been flourishing in many parts of Hong Kong in recent years. Based on my ongoing ethnographic fieldwork, it is found that... [Read More]
Sacralizing The Works, Engaging Inter-Cultural Relations: Stories Of Indonesian Female Muslim Workers In Hong Kong
Hong Kong Islam
This report will discuss Hong Kong as a “battle life” destination for hundreds of thousands of female Muslim women of Indonesia. It will explore dimensions of humans’ interests of economy, religion, traditions, politics and so forth that were all forged in the exercises of female subjectivity, and specifically focus on narratives of Indonesian female Muslim workers that significantly accounted religion for engagements in the battle life... [Read More]
Global/Local Perspectives on Chinese Muslim Origin Narratives and Guangzhou’s Islamic Heritage Sites
Guangzhou Islam
Alongstanding tradition among Hui Muslims attributes the arrival of Islam in China to a mission led by Saʿd ibn abī Waqqāṣ (ca. 595-ca.574), a relative of the Prophet Muhammad (570-632). Although the historicity of this story has been questioned to the point of incredulity, Saʿd ibn abī Waqqāṣ is... [Read More]
Alternative Healing Methods And China’s Health Silk Road: Chinese Muslim Medical Enterprises And Practitioners In Dubai
Dubai Islam
WANG Yuting
China has gained more prominence in terms of its global health leadership during the coronavirus pandemic. The state dispatched medical teams and supplies to many Belt and Road countries in the last six months. Sinopharm, a large state-owned Chinese pharmaceutical company, established its first... [Read More]
Islamic Belonging to Chinese Society: Taboo, Tolerance and the Ban on Alcohol in a Chinese Hui Muslim Town
Shadianzhen Islam
How Chinese Hui Muslim men and women living in Southwest China think about haram prohibitions in Islam. When confronted with alcohol in the course of daily life with others, they resort to the practice of staying away from haram that seems to depend on the presence of alcohol just as on its prohibited status... [Read More]
Muslim Traders in Yiwu: Global Migrant Merchants and Local Markets
Yiwu Islam
Fan Lizhu, Chen Na
Yiwu has changed from a city of no significant Muslim population to a large scale Muslim presence, with the establishment of Mosques and informal religious sites, and a great variety of halal restaurants. This research on Muslim migration to Yiwu from China and abroad, will discuss... [Read More]
Religion As Infrastructure: Congolese Migration, Diaspora, And Religious Networks
Congolese Christiantiy
Gerda Heck
In the last two decades, African charismatic and (neo)-Pentecostal communities have arisen in many metropolises globally. Questioning a traditional notion of infrastructure that focuses solely on architectures and utilities, Dr. Heck will show in her presentation, how revival churches have become powerful infrastructural actors, of which Congolese migrants, make use on their migratory routes and beyond... [Read More]
Circulations and Convergences: Mecca in the Conceptions and Mobilities of Chinese Muslim Diasporas in Saudi Arabia
Mecca Islam
Janice Hyeju Jeong
Mecca is often viewed through the angles of the pilgrimage, empires, Saudi foreign policy, and a source of religious movements elsewhere. While building on such transnational angles, this talk proposes to view Mecca as a convergence point and an intermediary site that has hosted and re-directed mobilities of diaspora populations from across Asia... [Read More]
The Politics of Muslim Infrastructure in Tanzania
Kariakoo Islam
Benjamin Kirby
Kariakoo is an old residential area in the city of Dar es Salaam in Tanzania. In recent decades, it has transformed into a super-dense commercial district. Droves of people converge in its streets every day to trade goods which go on to be circulated across the city and the wider East African region. While Kariakoo is a religiously mixed setting, it features a pronounced concentration of Muslim social practices and material forms... [Read More]
Infrastructures as locations for the negotiation of state power and flows of people and ideas. This section focuses on the routes and borders between China, Pakistan and Afghanistan (Mostowlansky), Laos/Vietnam (Palmer, Estevez and Ngo), and India/the Himalayas (Halkias), as well as sea routes passing through the Sri Lanka (Woods) and the Maldives (Feener).

Infrastructures of transportation and communication, but also of border demarcation and control, and of religious management and “deradicalization” (Liu) all contribute to shape and to transform the configuration of transnational religious networks, circulations and influences.
Mapping Routes, Exchange, And Transformation Along The Borderlands Of Laos, China, And Vietnam: The Lanten Case
Luang Namtha Daoism Ethnic Religion
Political and, often, scholarly, boundaries divide Asia artificially into units, such as Southeast Asia and China. This modern division often contributes to masking ongoing processes of exchange and flow of persons, goods and ideas, and societies inhabiting the borderlands. Such is the case of the... [Read More]
Buddhism At The Borders Of Trade: Colonial And Post-Colonial Discourses On Trans-Himalayan Economic Networks And Connectivity
Himalayas Buddhism Christiantiy Ethnic Religion
Georgios HALKIAS
The expansion of international trade exerted and continues to exert considerable influence on the negotiation of nation-state borders and on the formation of cultural, social, and religious identities. While the relationship between religion and trade is undeniably complex and multifaceted, it has... [Read More]
Muslim Humanitarian Networks and Chinese Infrastructures in Northern Pakistan
Gilgit-Baltistan Pakistan Islam
This project investigates the intersection of Muslim humanitarian networks and Chinese-built infrastructures in Gilgit-Baltistan in northern Pakistan. The central aim of the project is to examine how at this meeting point of material and social entities that are often seen as disjointed new... [Read More]
Parallels And Paradoxes: New Religious Formations In Response To The BRI In Sri Lanka
Sri Lanka Buddhism Islam
Orlando WOODS
Since the end of the civil war in 2009, Sri Lanka has attracted significant volumes of foreign investment. The vast majority of this investment has come from Chinese companies, which have committed loans amounting to over US$ 7 billion so far. Much of this investment has been used to finance... [Read More]
Paving Portions Of The ‘One Road’ Across The Indian Ocean: China’s Highway And Bridge Projects In The Republic Of The Maldives
Maldives Sinamalé Bridge Islam
Thoiba SAEEDH, R. Michael FEENER
Our work examines the work of constructing domestic overland roads and bridges within the Republic of the Maldives. This archipelago of atolls stretches across 90,000 square kilometres, but of that vast territory only less than 300 square kilometres is comprised of dry land. The country includes... [Read More]
State-Building In Religious Society: A Comparative Study Of Religious Control In Belt And Road Countries
Cnetral Asia Islam
LIU Zhao
This research aims to study state policies of the religious control in Belt and Road countries in Central Asia, including China (Xinjiang province), Kazakhstan, Uzbekistan, Azerbaijan, and Tajikistan. Through a comparative study of the religious policies in these countries, this study seeks to... [Read More]
China’s Belt and Road Initiative in Nepal
Nepal Rasuwa Hinduism
Galen Murton
This talk examines China’s Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) in Nepal to argue that infrastructure is a symbolic project of national development imaginaries, a process and practice of state formation, and a vector for the spatial operations of geopolitical power. Contextualized by a five-year development trajectory and accentuated with agreements from the Second Belt and Road Forum... [Read More]
This section examines how religious organizations and networks respond to the intensification of ties between China and other Asian nations by devising strategies of expansion or protection. This includes the intensification of competition between parallel and sometimes intersecting Christian and Islamic missionary movements (Li, Alsudairi). Meanwhile, the BRI is seen by many Chinese Christians as a divine plan, opening the road for the “back to Jerusalem” movement to send Chinese Christian missionaries to the middle East (Kang).

Away from Christian-Muslim rivalries, other transnational religious networks are circulating along the intensifying links connecting China with other Asian nations, and Chinese temple networks along the South China sea have used the BRI to imagine an alternative, horizontal transnational alliance of local communities and temples (Dean, Hertzman). In Vietnam, some religious groups are mobilising their spiritual powers to resist Chinese influence (Ngo). And, with the growing popularity of yoga and new age-style body-mind-spirit practices among the urban middle classes, Indian new religious movements have spread to China, with a flow of gurus and trainers visiting China and Chinese students heading to India for advanced spiritual training (Iskra).
Religious Circulation, Transportation Routes, And Urban Space: Christianity In Late Imperial And Modern China
Shenyang Chongqing Hong Kong Christianity
Li Ji
This project studies the intricate and largely overlooked relationship between religious circulation, transportation routes and urban space in the historical context of state building and global connection in mid-eighteenth to mid-twentieth-century China. Focusing on the case of Christianity, it... [Read More]
Back To Jerusalem: The Missionary Movement Of The Chinese Protestant House Church
Beijing Christianity
Chinese Protestant Christianity has grown exponentially in the last few decades. China has become a missionary-sending country at the same time as its political and economic importance in the world has grown. Many Chinese Christians believe that God has been calling on them to undertake the great... [Read More]
Modern China And The Question Of Muslim Sectarianism In The Context Of Inter-Asian Religious Circulations
Gansu Qinghai Ningxia Xinjiang Islam
Sinophone Islam, as found in the Xibei (Xinjiang, Gansu, Qinghai and Ningxia), is characterized by sectarian (jiaopai) divisions among four groupings: the Qadim, the Sufi orders (menhuan), the Ikhwan, and the Salafis. With the exception of the latter, all of these sects adhere to a common... [Read More]
Between A Rock And A Hard Place: Sinophobia And Religious Nationalist Sentiments In Vietnam
Vietnam East Asian Religiosity Ethnic Religion
President Xi Jinping’s launch of the One Bell One Road Initiative (OBOR or BRI) was met with a negative reaction in the Vietnamese public sphere, although the speedy development of infrastructure connecting Vietnam and China would stimulate a number of trade sectors. The discussion focused on... [Read More]
Alternative Networks In Southeast Asia: One Sea One Temple, And The City Of A Thousand Temples
Sibu Sinkawang Daoism East Asian Religiosity
Kenneth DEAN, Emily HERTZMAN
In response to the slogan One Belt One Road a small temple in Sibu, Sarawak came up with an alternative slogan – One Sea One Temple. They then built a network of over 100 Dabogong (Tudigong) temples in ports along the South China Sea and into the Indian Ocean. This covers much of the same... [Read More]
Building Inter-Asia New Age Networks: Balancing Heterodoxy And Patriotism In Chinese Spiritual Tourism To India
Andhra Pradesh Hinduism
The recent military clashes between India and China in the Galwan Valley resulted in the Sino-Indian border heating up to levels unseen in recent years. Meanwhile, India continues to downplay China’s Belt and Road Initiative and refuses to sign a BRI Memorandum of Understanding. In June 2020,... [Read More]
China’s Islamic Outreach to the Middle East
Ningxia Yinchuan Islam
Kyle Haddad-Fonda
Throughout its existence, the People’s Republic of China has depended on Chinese Muslims to foster relationships in the Arab world. But Beijing’s strategies for engaging its Muslim population in foreign outreach have changed dramatically over time. This lecture will focus on the city of Yinchuan, the capital of China’s Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region... [Read More]
Supporting the Faith, Building the Empire: Imperial Japan’s Islamic Policies in World War II
Japan Islam
Kelly Hammond
This talk will examine some of the ways that the Japanese Empire curried favors to Muslims in China, and later throughout East Asia, in the lead up to and throughout World War II. Drawing on examples from my recent book, China’s Muslims and Japan’s Empire: Centering Islam in World War II, the talk will present viewers with concrete policies and explore... [Read More]
The Universal Enemy: Jihad, Empire, and the Challenge of Solidarity
Bosnia and Herzegovina Islam
Darryl Li
No contemporary figure is more demonized than the Islamist foreign fighter who wages jihad around the world. Spreading violence, disregarding national borders, and rejecting secular norms, so-called jihadists seem opposed to universalism itself. In a radical departure from conventional wisdom on the topic, The Universal Enemy argues that transnational jihadists are engaged in their own form of universalism: these fighters struggle to realize an Islamist vision... [Read More]
The Religiosity of Millennials and the Islamic Movement of Hijrah in Indonesia
Indonesia Islam
Samsul Maarif
The generation of the millennials has been an important subject of public and academic discourses in today’s Indonesia. The millennials have been the main target for involvement in socio-religious and political movements. They were targeted as a critical constituency in political communication and campaigns during the last election of 2019... [Read More]