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Sayyid 'Ajall Shams al Din was the first civilian governor of Yunnan and among the most influential characters in the history of Islam in China. As one of the hundreds of Central Asian elite hostages brought back to Mongolia during the start of the Yuan dynasty, the Bukhara native was raised in the Mongol inner court and became an important military and administrative leader. He brought tens of thousands of Muslim experts, who would later settle across China and form the country's large Hui population, to help establish a foundation for the rapidly-expanding empire. He also invited Confucian scholars, as well as Buddhist and Daoist priests, to introduce traditional Chinese customs and values. Sayyid 'Ajall serves as an extraordinary example of the fluidity of identity and the dynamic exchange of ideas, cultures, technologies, and religious traditions that flowed back and forth across Asia during this period.

About the Speaker:

Jacqueline Armijo is a Visiting Associate Professor of History at New York University's campus in Shanghai. She has carried out extensive fieldwork in China, primarily in Yunnan where she lived for five years. Her research interests include: Islam in China; the growing importance of China-Gulf relations and their rapidly developing cultural and educational links; the Chinese Muslim (Hui) diaspora around the world; and China's use of education and research initiatives to strengthen regional relationships related to the Belt and Road Initiative across Asia. She has also taught at the Asian University for Women (Bangladesh), Qatar University, Zayed University (UAE), and Stanford University.

Speakers

  • Jacqueline Armijo (Visiting Associate Professor of History at NYU Shanghai)

    Jacqueline Armijo

    Visiting Associate Professor of History at NYU Shanghai

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