Current Institutional Affiliation
Senior Advisor, Interagency Task Force on the Reunification of Families, United States Department of Homeland Security

Award Information

International Dissertation Research Fellowship 2006
Institutional Affiliation (at time of award):
Anthropology, University of California / Berkeley
Remaking Muslim Women in China: The Rise of NGOs and New Configurations of Gendered Development

How does the recent arrival of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) that target the Muslim, Turkic-speaking minority in China change the gendered development visions and practices of the Chinese state, NGOs and Uyghur communities? Since the late-1990s, the Chinese government has permitted NGOs into Xinjiang, an autonomous region in northwestern China, under the condition that all projects are run jointly with a government body. What happens when different conceptions of gender and development meet in the form of joint state-NGO projects? My research will explore how the introduction of common NGO discourses (e.g. sustainability, human rights, and empowerment) and techniques (e.g. participatory research, training modules, and evaluation matrices) inflect how Chinese bureaucrats and Uyghurs conceive of gender and development. Conversely, I will examine how negotiations with multiple layers of the Chinese state, as well as Uyghur communities involved in the project, change NGO concepts and practices. Finally, through a year as a participant observant, I will develop an understanding of how women perform, adopt, reinterpret and/or defect new gendered development norms, and how in the process they preserve and reshape Islamic norms of female piety and virtue. Rather than assume monolithic responses on the part of any group, my research will unpack how different groups within the state, NGOs and Uyghur communities respond to each other and the changes brought by NGO-state projects, a profoundly new political, social and cultural form in late-socialist China.