The Hui Chinese: Reframing Hui Ethnic Identity
This thesis aims to reframe Hui ethnic identity with college Chinese students who identify as Hui in the U.S. The Hui are the descendants of merchants of Persian and Arabic who came to China through the Silk Road, and Hui is one of the legally recognised ethnicities in China. Also, the Hui are generally identified as Muslim Chinese in both western and eastern sources. With the socially constructed Hui ethnic identity, the younger generation of Hui have been reframing their ethnic identity through the question, what does it mean to be Hui? Although the Hui has formed the feature of “Spreading out but inhabiting in compact communities,” a greater number of Hui have moved out from the community and send their children to study at modern schools. Nevertheless, these Hui families still preserve the tradition such as abstaining from pork and visiting the elders during the religious festivals. The younger generation has faced this transition from having the heritage of their families to living in this mainstream society. What is the physical and emotional journey of the younger generation regarding their Hui ethnic identity? How do they reframe their identity? These research questions have informed in my design research.
Due to my current study at UIUC and COVID-19, I focus the target group as college Chinese students who are Hui and study in the U.S. During my design research, I will use collage as a design method to help participants express their emotion and narrate their stories based on their lived experiences. Then, by synthesizing participants’ physical and emotional journeys as well as their insights, I will use critical design to reframe the Hui ethnic identity. The critical design practice will give more agency to young adults, and more voices will be generated from both Hui and non-Hui people to critically think of this generally identified identity “Muslim Chinese,” which can further enhance the younger generation’s agency to reframe their identity.
Hui Chinese, Muslim Chinese, ethnic identity, collage, emotion, critical design