chapter  9
23 Pages

Genealogy Compilation and Identity Formation 1

Southeast China Communities of Muslim Descent
ByOded Abt

This chapter examines lineages of Muslim descent in Fujian, presenting the most acculturated communities among all cases discussed in this volume. Although descending from Song and Yuan Muslim sojourners, they rejected Islam as their religion centuries ago. Nevertheless, members of these communities still preserve written and oral traditions commemorating their Muslim ancestors. This chapter investigates family narratives of the Pu and Jin families of Quanzhou. Both played crucial political and military roles in thirteenth–fourteenth century Fujian and their historical influence still resonates in Southeast China to this day. Under current political conditions, Muslim origin has become a desired token for asserting an official Muslim-Chinese (Hui) ethnic identity. Thus, in the present, both the Jin and the Pu highlight genealogical documents attesting their foreign Muslim heritage. Nevertheless, Abt demonstrates that these records, first compiled during the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, were primarily aimed at explaining the circumstances that led to their ancestors’ assimilation, being gradually transformed from families of Muslim sojourners, to becoming localized lineages fully integrated into non-Muslim society. The two families’ historical narratives, occasionally tightly related, yet also representing conflicting interests and sentiments, reflect the different approaches they employed to address their changing identity.