China’s post-Mao religious revival has given birth to new types of religious expression and organization. Among the latter are faith-based charities, which are increasingly promoted by the party-state. Though overtly Islamic charity remains circumscribed, charities founded by Muslims and focused on Muslim concerns have gained prominence regionally and nationally. The research discusses several examples of Chinese Muslim charity and what they reveal about state Socialism and China’s market-driven economic transformation. The relationship between Muslim charity and the market is complex, since areas with large Muslim minority populations are among the least developed in the country. Such charity challenges the morality of market society while helping fellow adherents to adapt to it. At the same time, Socialist legacies influence many of its institutions, practices and objectives, with the party-state facilitating Muslim charity—along with Islamic identity and practice—in surprising ways.
About the Speaker:
Susan McCarthy is professor of political science at Providence College in Providence, Rhode Island, USA. She received her Ph.D. in political science from the University of California—Berkeley in 2001. Her research, on the politics of ethnicity and religion in contemporary China, explores how party-state norms, institutions, and practices both constrain and encourage efforts by minority and religious groups to articulate their identities and pursue their interests. Dr. McCarthy’s work has been published in The China Journal, Asian Ethnicity, China: An International Journal, Religion, State & Society, and other outlets. She is the author of Communist Multiculturalism: Ethnic Revival in Southwest China (University of Washington, 2009). Dr. McCarthy is currently working on a project on faith-based charity in China that examines how such charity facilitates alternative modes of religious practice and expression despite the many limits imposed by the party-state.