Religious Hegemony and Vernacular Mosque Architecture: Investigating Authority Differentials, Intra group Dissonance and Acculturation among Chinese Muslims
AbstractAbstract Views: 49
This article engages with the role of sacred architecture as an embodiment of the conflicts, within a Chinese Muslim ethnic minority group, determined by the dispute upon religious hegemony. Vernacular architecture of a minority group has significant socio-cultural implications and can serve as a tool to measure its integration in the mainstream society. Through an ethnographic study focusing upon the Hui, a Muslim minority community of Xi’an, in Communist China and their sacred architecture, it indicates that the architectural archetype of a mosque quite precisely concretizes the religious hegemony, intra group dissonance and acculturative or retentionist trends of Hui community. It demonstrates that certain architectural features, such as the presence or absence of minaret and dome or a Chinese styled roof with carved animals, in the mosque clearly mirror the loci of religious authority of its adherents. It proposes that architectural characteristics can play the role of preservers and charters of cultural identity of a minority group and can equivocally serve as symbols of retention or acculturation in the mainstream society. By applying a socio-architectural approach, it is meant to explore that how mosques architecture in today’s China reflects the intra group dissonance of the Hui community and how shifting paradigms of religiously oriented hegemony are working to eradicate the Sino-Muslim historical architectural relics.
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