Sharia, Charity, and Minjian Autonomy in Muslim China: Gift Giving in a Plural World

American Ethnologist 43(2): 311-423 (2016)

14 Pages Posted: 8 Sep 2016

See all articles by Matthew S. Erie

Matthew S. Erie

University of Oxford; University of Oxford - Centre for Socio-Legal Studies

Date Written: May 24, 2016

Abstract

In Marcel Mauss's analysis, the gift exists in the context of a homogenous system of values. But in fact, different types of normative systems can inhabit the same social field. This is the case among Hui, the largest Muslim minority group in China, for whom the “freedom” of the gift resides in the giver's capacity to follow the rules underlying gifting, in this case, the rules of sharia. I call this capacity “minjian (unofficial, popular) autonomy.” Hui follow sharia in pursuit of a good life, but their practices are also informed by mainstream Han Chinese gift practices and by the anxieties of the security state. In their gifting practices, Hui thus endeavor to reconcile the demands of Islamic, postsocialist, and gift economies.

Keywords: gift economy, autonomy, sharia, charity, China, Islamic finance, ethics

Suggested Citation

Erie, Matthew Steven, Sharia, Charity, and Minjian Autonomy in Muslim China: Gift Giving in a Plural World (May 24, 2016). American Ethnologist 43(2): 311-423 (2016). Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2781132

Matthew Steven Erie (Contact Author)

University of Oxford ( email )

Dickson Poon Building
Canterbury Road
Oxford, Oxfordshire OX2 6LU
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://www.orinst.ox.ac.uk/staff/ch/erie.html

University of Oxford - Centre for Socio-Legal Studies ( email )

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Oxford, OX1 2JD
United Kingdom

HOME PAGE: http://https://www.law.ox.ac.uk/people/matthew-erie

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