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.