Unwritten Tales

Scrutinizing the Making of Religious Histories within a Chinese Muslim Community

By comparing some writing processes which took place during different periods, this paper examines writing conditions of a religious history within a Chinese Muslim community. Our investigation on written materials, enlightened by oral history interviews, shows that untold accounts of miracles are at the core of what could or could not be told about that history. Moreover, this analysis demonstrates that from the 1980s onwards, accounts of mystical experience have mostly circulated in the shadows of the public sphere.

The Author

Marie-Paule Hille, historian and anthropologist, is Senior Lecturer at EHESS. She has been conducting research on Islam in northwestern China for about ten years, and her thesis, defended in 2014, is devoted to the study of a Chinese-speaking Chinese community called Xidaotang. His work in history and religious anthropology focuses more specifically on the cult of saints and hagiographic practices in Chinese Islam. By combining a historical and anthropological approach, she is also interested in sociability and commercial networks between Muslims and Tibetans in the Amdo region in the 20th and 21st centuries.

The text

This text was written by the laureate in 2015 of prix d’histoire sociale fondation Mattei Dogan & FMSH.

Citing this document:

Marie-Paule Hille, Le dicible et l’indicible. Enquête sur les conditions d’écriture d’une histoire religieuse au sein d’une communauté musulmane chinoise, FMSH-WP-2016-119, décembre 2016.

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