China and Inner Asia
Mario De Grandis
University College Dublin, Ireland
Despite the Hui’s geographic dispersion across the entirety of China, the production, promotion, and dissemination of Huizu wenxue (defined as the literary works by Hui people) hinges primarily on two publishers: Ningxia People’s Press and the journal Hui Literature. Since the late 1970s, these two publishers have played a complementary role in establishing a Hui literary network within and beyond China’s borders. Through the compilation of Hui literary histories and collectanea, Ningxia People’s Press has assumed the role of canon-maker. The Hui literary canon—a portion of which translated into Arabic by Ningxia People’s Press—has triggered exchanges between Hui literary professionals and authors in the Middle East. For its part, Hui Literature has organized national meetings that brought together Hui authors from all across China and “Dungan Hui authors” from Central Asia. The analysis of these meetings highlights how established authors have mentored junior ones, both during and beyond meetings, by workshopping manuscripts and providing opportunities for professional development. Although geographically and symbolically displaced from China’s economic and political centers, the literary initiatives carried on by Ningxia People’s Press (Yinchuan, Ningxia) and Hui Literature (Changji, Xinjiang) are central for the existence of Hui literature in China and for its crisscross exchanges with Central Asia and the Middle East. The case of Hui literary publishers challenges the perception of literary centers as solely located in affluent metropolitan areas, thus inviting us to foreground ethnicity as as a lens to investigate transregional and transnational literary networks.