CeMEAS Conversations: Janice Hyeju Jeong

CeMEAS Conversations: Janice Hyeju Jeong

Chinese Muslim Pilgrimage to Mecca: Migration, Diaspora and Transnational Connectivity

In this video, Janice Hyeju Jeong discusses her research on Chinese Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca. Drawing on the history of pilgrimage from the 18th century to present times, she examines the development of routes, motives, communities and transnational as well as regional networks that evolved over time. Based on her fieldwork in Saudi-Arabia, she discusses new multi- directional and multi-generational migration since the end of the Cold War and contrasts these Chinese Muslim networks to economic and developmental efforts of the Belt and Road Initiative. Furthermore she discusses Chinese Muslim migration within the PR China and introduces a historic pilgrimage site in Guangzhou.

In this interview she discusses the following questions:

00:05 1. In your research, you trace the presence of Chinese Muslim communities in Mecca over the past century. Can you give us a short overview of pilgrimage routes and modes of migration and exile?

07:53 2. In Mecca, guildhalls play an important role in the formation of transregional Chinese Muslim networks. How did they evolve over time and what kind of role do they play today?

15:16 3. How did modes of migration change after the end of the Cold War and Reform and Opening in China? Can you tell us a bit more about new patterns of multi-directional and multi-generational migration since the 1980s?

20:22 4. Chinese Muslim pilgrimage and the diaspora in Mecca act as mediators and connectors between China and the Middle East. How does this fit into China’s developmental and economic ambitions as part of the Belt and Road Initiative (BRI)?

26:07 5. Pilgrimage sites play an important role for Muslim life within the PR China as well. Can you give us an example?

Janice Hyeju Jeong joined the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Göttingen in 2021 with broad research interests in formations of Islamic networks between China and the Arabian Peninsula, inter-Asian connections, and history and anthropology. She pursued her doctorate degree in History at Duke University, where she completed a thesis entitled “Between Shanghai and Mecca: Diaspora and Diplomacy of Chinese Muslims in the Twentieth Century.” The thesis utilized Mecca as a locational anchor and an analytical framework to trace the metamorphoses of religious and migratory networks of Chinese Muslims across mainland China, Taiwan, and Saudi Arabia in the course of the twentieth century, and showed mobilizations of such networks as channels of informal diplomacy at moments of international war.

To collect textual and ethnographic data, Jeong conducted multi-regional fieldwork in places including Jeddah, Riyadh, Linxia, Shanghai, and Taipei with the support of several grant agencies. She has had affiliations with the King Faisal Center for Research and Islamic Studies, Peking University, and New York University Shanghai.At the University of Göttingen, Jeong will work as part of a research team exploring the history of conceptions of world order, which is funded by the German Ministry of Education and Research (BMBF).