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Public Lecture: Yee Lak Elliot Lee on ''Mosque Properties and Muslim Graveyards in the Pearl River Delta: Appropriated Physical Space''

30 June 2022

5 p.m.

Seminargebäude, Room S 403

In this lecture, rather than focusing on the macro-level (de)territorialization processes through discourses, on the one hand, and the micro-level body-space dynamics, on the other hand, I approach the question of religion and space from the meso-level of the tangible recreation of social space. By looking into the historical upkeeping of mosque properties and Muslim cemeteries in the city of Guangzhou, I invite the audience to consider the different strategies of spatial appropriation employed by Hui (Sinophone) Muslims in the urban social landscape. The socio-political capital of Hui elites – primarily those who held significant military or civil roles – in the region allowed the transformation of the “effect of enclave” affiliated with the Muslim minority into the “effect of club.” Patronage by non-Muslims and the donation of endowment by Muslims themselves contributed to the accumulation of various Bordieuan capitals. The club effect produced by cultural capital surrounding the Muslim identity could, at times, resonate way beyond the immediate locality and extend globally (as in the case of global Ahmadiyya support of Guangzhou Muslim sites during the Second World War). However, with the advent of secularity as a spatial order, which was part and parcel of modern secularism, the desirability of having the shared identity as Hui Muslim was limited to the physically reified social space (field) designated by this secularity. This limit was produced materially through surveying processes and the legal regulations built upon it. At the same time, the spatial order was enabled by a temporality that – not only allowed the spatialization of religion – but its relegation into the past. Therefore, the maintenance of religious space became very much at the mercy of the utility of the past in a secular social order.