by JOMO R. SMITH for DISSERTATION REVIEWS on JANUARY 20, 2014:
Kristian Petersen’s dissertation, “The Great Transformation: Contours of the Sino-Islamic Intellectual Tradition,” tackles a moment of significant change in the Sino-Muslim community. The concept of a unique Sino-Islamic tradition is not new to scholarship, having been established by Zvi Ben-Dor Benite’s The Dao of Mohammed and the works of Sachiko Murata and William Chittick (whom Petersen cites). As such, we have known for some time that Ming-Qing-era scholars like Liu Zhi produced a corpus of scholarship (the Han Kitab) that expounded upon the Muslim worldview on various topics yet aimed exclusively at those steeped in the language and ideology of Confucian orthodoxy. Liu Zhi, Wang Daiyu, Ma Zhu and others have come to be known as “Confucian Muslims” or Hui-Ru in English-language scholarship. Petersen’s dissertation aims to ground our understanding of Confucian Muslims within the the context of the broader Muslim world and its relationship to Arabic. Petersen does this by considering the written work of Wang Daiyu, Liu Zhi and Ma Dexin, three Sino-Muslim scholars whose engagement with Arabic texts and intellectual traditions from Persia, the Middle East and elsewhere returned an Arabic authenticity to the Chinese Muslim experience.
Kristian Petersen is a Visiting Assistant Professor in the Department of Religion at Gustavus Adolphus College. His research interests include Theory and Methodology in the Academic Study of Religion, Critical Islamic Thought, Muslims in the West, Literary and Institutional Sufism, Chinese Religions, Human Rights, and Comparative Religions. He specializes on the development of Islam in China and Sino-Islamic intellectual history.