1st Edition

Inside the Expressive Culture of Chinese Women's Mosques ‘This Turmoil of the Soul’

By Maria Jaschok Copyright 2025
    272 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book presents a multi-voice narrative of the history and significance of current contestations over the increasing prominence of expressive piety in Hui Muslim women’s mosques in central China. 

    By drawing on a ‘Song Book’ of chants, collected from the tradition of women’s mosques, as context it reveals just how the increasing prominence of female voices has given rise to considerable misgivings among senior religious leaders over the potential destabilisation of orthodox Islamic gendered practices. Providing a historical introduction to the place and function of Islamic chants, jingge and zansheng, the book gives a conceptual framing of female silence, sound, and agency in local translations of Confucian and Islamic precepts, and women’s personal accounts of the role played by traditional and modern soundscapes in transmitting and celebrating Islamic knowledge and faith. 

    As a study of women's soundscapes and the significance of legitimacy, ambiguities, and implications of female sound, this book will be of considerable interest to students and scholars of Chinese society and culture, gender studies, cultural anthropology, and Islam.

    Introduction: A Research Community of Discovery and Voice; Chapter 1. The Songbook Of Chinese Hui Muslim Women: Recovering An Expressive Culture Of Religious Piety; Chapter 2. Chants As A Bridge To Remembering Past Lives: Once Learnt Never Forgotten; Chapter 3. Theorizing Silence, Voice, Identity, And Cultural Fault-Lines: Strategies Of Silence And Powers Of Omission; Chapter 4. Vernacularizing A Global Faith: The Happier An Atmosphere; Chapter 5. State Power, Women’s Liberation, And Traditions Of Faith: Researching Spaces Owned, Spaces Of Possibility; Chapter 6. The Right To Be Heard: Chants Of Turmoil, Chants Of Gladness; Chapter 7. Remembering Chants Of Commitment: Truth Lies With Father And Mother; Chapter 8. Sustaining Faith During Times Of Silence And Scarcity: To Live Through Such Times; Chapter 9. A Space From Which To Speak: Harmonies And Discords; Chapter 10. Sounding Silence And Turmoil Of The Soul: Collective Agency And Legitimacy Of Voice; Epilogue


    Maria Jaschok is Senior Research Associate of Contemporary China Studies at the Oxford School of Global and Area Studies, University of Oxford, UK.

    "In this remarkable book, Jaschok takes us inside women’s mosques, allowing us to hear a multitude of expressive voices: of the ethnographer herself, her collaborators, and most importantly, communities of Muslim women. Their words and their silences alike are sources of inspiring strength."

     Anne Gerritsen, University of Warwick