The emergence of “Muslim heritage” in China. Reflections on the Dynamics of an Unformulated Category. Appendix: “Lists of Muslim Heritage in China at the National Level” (1961-2019)

Pascale Bugnon

1. Introduction

The People’s Republic of China has been involved in the institutional and legal production of cultural heritage since 1961, when it enacted the first legislative text on the protection of historical monuments, accompanied by a list of sites of cultural heritage value. If this first inventory was mainly concerned with sites related to the Communist revolution and archaeology, this model has gradually been expanded to include historical and cultural sites that have a local and “ethnic” [民族] component. This new paradigm has led to a sharp increase in cultural investment, revaluing not only the elements of the various imperial pasts, but also what are officially called “ethnic minorities” [少 数民族]. In this unprecedented context, a number of monuments attract attention: those belonging to the “Muslim heritage” [伊斯兰文化遗产]. Without being institutionally recognised under this name[1], this heritage raises many questions, especially about the underlying political, economic and social issues. In this article, I propose some lines of thought on the establishment of these cultural policies, which have led to the emergence of an unformulated category.

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