Ajam Media Collective Podcast
Ajam Podcast #32: Chinese Muslims and Imperial Japan
In this episode, Rustin and Ali interview Dr. Kelly Anne Hammond, Assistant Professor of East Asian History in the Department of History at the University of Arkansas, about her book, China’s Muslims and Japan’s Empire: Centering Islam in World War II (University of North Carolina Press, November 2020).
During World War II, Sino-Muslims (Hui Muslims) were an important focal point for Imperial Japanese propaganda. Japanese imperial officials saw Sino-Muslims as crucial intermediaries that could help not only defeat nationalist and communist opposition in China, but also help bolster an image of the empire as anti-Western protectors of Islam. Building on an older academic tradition of Islamic Studies in Japan, knowledge of Islam was put into imperial service. Combined with the patronage of Muslim schools, mosques, and hajj pilgrimage, the empire aimed to create transnational Muslim networks that were centered in Japan and used Japanese as their new lingua franca.
Dr. Hammond shows that these efforts were met with limited success due to the community’s religious and political diversity, as well as the military defeat of Imperial Japan. Even those who were receptive to Japanese efforts ultimately had to ally themselves with other powers following the end of the war, yet the legacy of their role as intermediaries remained even in the Cold War era.
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