The Knowledge Power of God: Knowledge Networks among Protestant Missionaries to Chinese Muslims and the Global Origins of Muslim Responses, 1910–49

Friday, January 3, 2014: 10:50 AM
Marriott Balcony A (Marriott Wardman Park)
Joshua A. Sooter, New York University
This paper explores early twentieth century British and American Protestant missionaries'’ use of knowledge-power to convert Chinese Muslims (Hui) and the local and transnational aspects of Hui resistance. Missionaries created sophisticated networks through which knowledge of Hui distribution, demographics, and cultural practices could be gathered and disseminated for proselytizing. The Hui drew on global connections with Islamic communities in the Middle East and Southeast Asia, as well as the local contours of their religious practice and social structures, to counter missionaries' assertions and encroachments. These local and global interactions led to theological and structural changes among both groups, as missionaries sought to understand their failure to produce converts and the Hui adapted missionary ideas, including schools based on missionary models. This essay reconstructs the networks and mediums through which ideas and information moved to analyze how the knowledge and discourses that circulated among Hui and Protestants shaped their interaction at the local level. On a broader level, this paper seeks to demonstrate the importance of examining religion as a site of global, cultural, and intellectual interaction. 

This study examines both Hui (theological circulars and journals) and missionary (pseudo-academic journals and monographs, private correspondence, travel logs, pamphlets, and tracts) sources.