© 2018

Educational Journeys, Struggles and Ethnic Identity

The Impact of State Schooling on Muslim Hui in Rural China


About this book


This book examines how state schooling in China has economically, culturally, and ideologically had an impact on and gradually transformed a traditional Muslim Hui village in rural Northwestern China. By discussing the interpretation and appropriation of dominant educational discourse of “quality” in the rural context, it illustrates the dichotomies of poverty and prosperity, civility and uncivility, and religiosity and secularity as they are perceived and understood by teachers, parents and students. Based on an original ethnographic research conducted in a secondary school, it further touches upon Muslim Hui students’ negotiations of filial, rural, and ethnoreligious identities when they struggle to seek a life of their own in the journey to prosperity.

The book introduces audiences to multiple ways in which Muslim Hui students construct and negotiate identities through state schooling, especially the educational heterogeneity experienced by various Muslim youth. It also captures the changing rural-urban dynamic as state schooling continues to guide local formal educational activities as well as create tensions and confusions for both teachers and parents. Most importantly, the book challenges stereotypes about Muslim Hui students in Northwest China being assimilated into the mainstream culture by demonstrating how local Muslims live, study, pray, and fulfil the five pillars of Islam. It will be highly relevant to students and researchers in the fields of education, anthropology, sociology, and religious studies.


Rural China Xihaigu Rural Education Filial Piety Jingtang Secular Schooling Ethnoreligiosity religion and education

Authors and affiliations

  1. 1.University of PennsylvaniaPhiladelphia, PAUSA

About the authors

Xinyi Wu is a lecturer at the Joseph H. Lauder Institute of Management & International Studies at University of Pennsylvania, USA. Her research involves ethnic minority education in rural China with special focuses on ethnic identity and education, access to education, and quality of education.

Bibliographic information


“This remarkable volume offers deep insights into the lives of children from the Hui minority in China, a unique Islamic group of over ten million with their own autonomous region in China’s northwest. Extensive field work using critical ethnography in an impoverished southern county of Ningxia highlights the dilemmas they face between state schooling and religious education. As both insider and outsider, the author depicts their struggles in ways that are both vivid and authentic.” (Ruth Hayhoe, University of Toronto, Canada)