China and Inner Asia

Organized Panel Session

2 - Mapping Islam and Islamophobia in Time and Space on the Ground and on Weibo

Friday, March 23
12:45 PM - 2:45 PM
Location: Park Tower 8216, Lobby Level

Since the 1970s, Islam can be said the fastest growing religion in China in terms of the number of mosques restored and built anew. While the numbers of officially approved Christian churches and Buddhist temples remain below the 1949 level, the number of mosques has superseded the 1949 level. For decades, Islamic revivals benefited from affirmative action policies toward ethnic minorities. Using China’s census data, we map the location of mosques throughout China. In recent years, however, there have been media reports of severe crackdowns on Muslim minorities in Northwestern China. Meanwhile, there seems to be a sudden rise of Islamophobia on the internet under Xi Jinping regime. With personal visits and anecdotes confirm that the rising tide of anti-Islam sentiment is sweeping China, it is difficult to pin down from where these sentiments arise and how they spread throughout the country. This paper collects over 10,000 posts from Chinese social media (Weibo) featuring posts about Islam and maps how recent fears of domestic, Islamic terrorism has spread throughout China. The authors argue that attention to how words travel in time and space is a helpful device to understanding the intellectual and conceptual paths of anti-religious sentiments.

Charles Chang

Purdue University, Indiana

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