Abstracts on Religion

Muslim Mandarins in Chinese Courts: Dispute Resolution, Islam, and the Secular State in Northwest China.

Please reload

Muslim Mandarins in Chinese Courts: Dispute Resolution, Islam, and the Secular State in Northwest China.
Matthew S. Erie, University of Oxford

Many sociolegal studies have investigated the relationship between state law and informal law, examining alternative dispute resolution and popular justice as intersections between such types of law. However, such questions have received little attention in East Asian authoritarian states. I use the case of dispute resolution among Chinese Muslim minorities (the Hui) to reexamine the relationship between state law and Islamic law. Based on nineteen months of fieldwork in Northwest China, I argue that the Hui case shows codependence between the types of law. Law is deeply embedded in social relationships between the Hui and the party-state. An analysis of personalistic relationships shows the ways in which religious and secular authorities access each other, transforming each other’s law to augment their own legitimacy, but not without the potential for violence. The China case illuminates dynamics between Muslim communities and states that are prevalent elsewhere in the post-9/11 period.