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Religious Women in a Chinese City: Ordering the past, recovering the future - Notes from fieldwork in the central Chinese province of Henan
The article, based on reflections from on-going ethnographic research in central China's Muslim and Catholic female communities, links indigenous notions of 'modernity' with religious identity and changing gender politics. Maria Jaschok argues that a growing de-centralization of the Chinese state apparatus and the concomitant emergence of civil space, however tentative or circumscribed, contribute to a society in which sources and processes of 'liberation', of the nation and of its women, are no longer axiomatic. Moreover, political tensions may bring in their wake volatility and uncertainty but, so Jaschok maintains, these also engender opportunities for aspirations, motivations, practises, and social engagement which are religiously infused! A modern, progressive, believing Chinese female citizen, assertive of her identity - it appears this may no longer be quite the oxymoron it once was when Maoist developmentalist prescriptions monopolised China's political culture.