[Review] Dislocating China – Dru C. Gladney

Daripada “mubadzir” hanya sebagai tugas kampus, lebih baik di share di sini. Siapa tahu ada yang tertarik untuk baca bukunya :D! Khusus buat teman-teman yang tertarik seputar studi Muslim Hui di China. Here, another book written by Dru C. Gladney.

Dislocating China: Reflections on Muslims, Minorities, and Other Subaltern Subjects
Dru C. Gladney, London, Hurst & Company, 2004, 414 pages


Gladney is one of the leading scholars who have expertise in China’s ethnic minorities, especially on Muslim minorities such as the Hui. Gladney’s Dislocating China is an excellent introduction into the ways in which ethnicity and religion intersect in contemporary China today. Many of the chapters discussed about China’s Muslims, but the book as a whole is more wide ranging examining ethnic representation in Chinese cinema, ethnic ‘culture parks’ and in popular culture. The purpose of this book is seeks to understand how disenfranchised groups and other subaltern subjects (whether they be Muslims, minorities, students, or gendered others) might enhance our understanding of “nation-ness” and “Chinese-ness” in the context of China.

Dru C. Gladney

One of the central themes of the book is Gladney’s contestation of “Han” as a legitimate ethnic group. In some discussions, most scholars still tend to accept that Chinese representation is dominated by Han groups, and ethnic minorities is marginalized minorities. In other words, there is a tendency on homogenization of Chinese culture. This is assumed homogeneity of China as a nation-state made up of a unified and undifferentiated Han majority and a few ethnic groups in its border areas that Gladney sets out to challenge; through giving voice to some subalterns, in order to gain a better understanding of the dynamics of Chinese society and culture. Gladney challenges this view and argued that the dichotomy of majority and minority, also primitive and modern, is historically constructed. He shows consistency in whole chapters in this book on pursuing his main idea about understanding Chinese society and culture from the subaltern perspective, and to deconstruct notions of a monolithic Han majority.

The book consists of 7 parts, which consist of 16 chapters talking about dislocating ethnic identity in China from various aspects, such as: recognitions, representations, folklorizations, ethnicizations, indigenizations, socializations and politizations. In part I about Recognitions, include background of cultural nationalism and forms of displaying nationalism in China. Gladney argues that nationalism is not simply a set of imagined ideas, but constitutes powerful styles of representations. He points out the selectivity within the cultural taxonomy of nationalities in China. The emerging and strengthening forms of cultural nationalisms of various groups in turn influence Chinese nationalism.

Part II consists of two chapters on Representations. Majority/ minority objectifications are commodified in the Chinese public sphere, reifying certain notions of minority primitivity in order to establish majority modernity. The main argument is that in art (one of the examples is on contemporary Chinese cinema), the objectified portrayal of minority groups is essential for the construction of the “unmarked”, modern, civilized Han majority. Part III is about “Folklorizations”, starts with concern on the Chinese Muslims (the Hui) “hybridity” in which is shown to challenge Samuel Huntington’s theory about the clash of civilizations. He also explained the Hui’s interconnections of localism and transnationalism to the Muslim world.

Part IV about “Ethnicizations”, explains the contradictory nature of Muslim hybridity, suggesting that essentialized and static theories of identity, ethnicity, and nationality fail to take account of simultaneous selves and the oppositional shifting of highly politicized identities. He proposes that ethnic identity is shaped by the dialogical interaction of traditions of descent and state policy, and is continuously negotiated and re-defined. Gladney also writes a similar case/ analogy to the Han majority about the homogeneity of the majority groups of other countries, such as the Turks of Turkey and the Russians of the former Soviet Union.

In Part V, “Indigenizations”, discuss about the role of the state in channeling identities and local resistances to those state-defined histories. Gladney examine the role of indigeneity in shaping Uyghur identity in northwest China. It focuses on the dynamic nature of ethnic identity, in which the state is a regulatory, channeling force, and also suppression towards local resistance. The next chapter in this part talking about Uyghur “cyber-separatist” movement (imagined homeland of East Turkestan) that underlines how transnationalism as well as the representations of the Uyghur by the state all promote an objectified representation of Uyghur identity.

In Part VI “Socializations”, Gladney argues about centralized educational system to Hui ethnography. Centralized state education has been one of the most powerful tools for acculturating China’s subalterns along predetermined path, other traditions of knowledge transmission that have maintained parallel kinds of knowledge and history. In other means, it creating and integrating them into the Chinese nation state. Education remains a contested arena in which competing and often conflicting sets of norms are negotiated. Chapter 13 compares attitudes to prosperity between Hui and Han.

As for in the latest part, about “Politicizations”, focused on local responses in China to world events. In chapter 14 discusses the views of Hui and Uyghur subalterns about the Gulf Wars in 1991 and 2003, which demonstrates the diversity of China’s Muslims; how they participate in international relations. Chapter 15 connects Chinese subalterns’ responses to global events about student protests in Tiananmen Square to the end of the Cold War.

In the conclusion part, Gladney argued that the categorization and taxonomization of all levels of Chinese society, from political economy, to social class, to gender, to ethnicity and nationality indicates a wide-ranging and ongoing project of internal colonialism. What make this part more interesting that is Gladney resume some of the current issues in China such as China after 9/11, subaltern perspectives on the Chinese geo-body, Chinese nationalism and its subaltern implications, subaltern separatism and Chinese response, and argument about “China’s expanding internal colonialism”.

Gladney ends his book by raising new questions; what will happen to those Chinese citizens on its borders should a nationalist movement rise up that sees them as more of a threat than as part of a China that is multinational and multi-ethnic? If nationalist sentiments prevail during this time of transition, what will happen to those subaltern subjects currently living in China, but beyond the Great Wall? (page 367).