Cham Muslims of the Mekong Delta: Place and Mobility in the Cosmopolitan Periphery

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By Philip Taylor

This book provides an account of the vigorous survival of an Islamic community in the strife-torn borderlands of the lower Mekong delta and its creative accommodation to the modernising reforms of the Vietnamese government. Officially regarded as one of Vietnam's national minority groups, the multilingual Cham are part of a cosmopolitan, transnational community, and as traders, pilgrims and labour migrants are found throughout mainland Southeast Asia and beyond. Drawing on local and extra-local networks developed during a long history that includes many migrations, the Cham counter their political and economic marginalisation in modern Vietnam by a strategic use of place and mobility, with Islam serving as a unifying focus.

This highly readable ethnographic study describes the settlement history and origin narratives of the Cham Muslims of the Mekong delta, and explains their religious practices, material life and relationship with the state in Vietnam and Cambodia. It offers original insights into religious and ethnic differentiation in the Mekong delta that will enrich comparative study of culturally pluralist societies, and contributes significantly to the study of Islam, cosmopolitanism, trade, rural development and resistance and the Malay diaspora.

"Given the pace of development in Vietnam, and the deep ethnic chauvinism detailed in this book, one certainly hopes that Vietnamese planners do take the central message to heart. The book will be a welcome addition to the study of Cham Muslims, and to the developing literature on the multi-ethnic, religiously diverse regions ofVietnam’s south."
Eric Harms

Philip Taylor is Senior Fellow in the Department of Anthropology at the Australian National University. He also authored The Khmer Lands of Vietnam: Environment, Cosmology and Sovereignty.

Asian Studies Association of Australia: Southeast Asian Publications Series

Publication Year: 2007
304 pages, 229mm x 153mm
ISBN: 978-9971-69-361-9, Paperback

NUS Press