Chinese in Pakistan: Diasporic Identity, Faith and Practice

31 Jul 2017

Ms. Alice Ping-Hsiu Lin

Venue: Seminar Room, ICS
Time: 3:00 PM

About the Speaker

Alice Ping-Hsiu Lin is a second-year doctoral student in Anthropology at the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Her current dissertation project focuses on the coloured gem trade in South Asia. In studying the lives of suppliers, traders, jewellers, and consumers, her research explores conceptions of what is licit/illicit, trust, and authenticity across religious and ethnic groups. Prior to doctoral studies, she obtained a Masters in Area Studies from EHESS, France where her research focused on the Chinese in Pakistan.


In the last few years, with increased coincidence of economic interests, China-Pakistan relations have taken centre stage. Growing commercial activities have facilitated an economic migration of Chinese nationals to Pakistan, and have largely overshadowed the history of the dwindling Pakistani-Chinese who are the main subject of this presentation. The ethnographic focus of this paper is the Chinese diaspora in Pakistan and the ways in which Pakistani-Chinese families, whose presence in the region spans multiple generations, have retained and adopted certain practices and faiths while traversing a particularly turbulent time in South Asian history. The founding members of this community are considered “twice-migrants” in that they arrived in present-day Pakistan via British India and the former East Pakistan. More broadly, this paper examines how regions of Asia were connected across the port cities of Calcutta, Chittagong, Dacca, and Karachi through their migratory trajectories. Drawing on first-hand interviews with the Pakistani-Chinese, it studies their almost unanimous adoption of Christianity and its intermixture with Chinese religious ritual in the context of a Muslim-majority society. By examining the situated practices deployed by the Pakistani-Chinese, this paper offers insights for the anthropological analysis of religion and ethnicity in Pakistan and contributes to the vast body of literature on Chinese diaspora.

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