Wednesday, December 20, 2006

Pigs and Han-Hui Conflict in China

Thanks to my colleague Ali I've been reading Dru Gladney's fascinating Muslim Chinese: Ethnic Nationalism in the People's Republic (1991). Gladney notes that the taboo against pork has become a distinguishing marker of identity for the Muslim Hui minority in regions of China where the Hui are not openly religious. While pigs and the pork taboo play a significant role in several parts of Gladney's study, I was especially interested in how pigs were used in an attempt to force assimilation of the minority in the 1960s. Mao urged households throughout China to raise pigs: "The more pigs, the more manure; the more manure, the more grain; the more grain, the greater contribution to our country." Hui who resisted this aspect of the Great Leap Forward were critiqued for "feudalist" ideas . Despite this resistance, some Hui households did raise pigs, although it was mainly party activists who did so. One Hui villager told Gladney about the dilemma of having to take care of pigs or face criticism. He would look at the animal and say "Oh you black bug (hei chongzi, a Hui euphemism for pig) if you get fat, you will die. If you get thin, I'll die!" [135-136]


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