Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources
In Phase 1, I created 10 big questions I will attempt to answer during my trip to Xizhou. On this Phase, I will be looking for resources that could lead me to some answers and more questions.
During my research, I focused on certain keywords to gain information that was more crucial to my project. Some of them were "history," "Cultural Revolution," and "ideals." I wanted to find out the basic distinction between religions in Xizhou and how they evolved over time to become what it is today. I familiarized myself with the three most prevalent beliefs of Islam and Benzhu, a mixture of Daoism and Buddhism. Further reading about the cultural revolution in China helped me get a grasp of recent events worshippers suffered and the impacts of the government in religious communities in China.
To ensure the validity of my research, I relied on the database of my school most of the time. Articles from World Book Online showed the authors at the end of each article, which made my research much easier. However, I still made clear that the information I accessed was up to date and written by reliable people with professional backgrounds regarding the topic, especially when I visited new websites and books.
I have reached out an expert for feedback on my work. I decided to contact Dr. Koen Wellens due to his publications and special interest in ethnic minority and religion of Southwest China.
Dear Dr. Wellens
My name is Alex, and I am an 8th grader at Shanghai American School. I have been researching the religion of ethnic minorities in China for a 4-week program in Xizhou, Yunnan.
I wanted to receive comments from experts on my topic in order to improve my work and noticed your articles and books that related to my project. I was hoping if you could provide me with advice regarding my project that could be found here. Below are the questions I am trying to answer; I am seeking for general feedback on it and possible links to sources I could use. I want to be clear that I am not asking for answers, but for some comments and ways of improvement.
Perspective of Modern Daily Life
1. Does religion intervene in daily lives of locals XiZhou? If so, how?
2. Does religion affect how people view certain groups of people?
3. How does passing down of belief take place in households of different beliefs?
4. When a Muslim marries a Benzhu worshipper, what are the most significant changes the couple face?
Difference Between the Ideals
5. How does Benzhu views on life and Islamic views on life differ amongst the locals?
6. How does the purpose of religion differ between Benzhu and Islam?
7. Are there any major contradictions between the teachings of Benzhu and Islam in Xizhou?
8. How did the two religion become a popular belief in Xizhou over the course of history?
9. Are there any religious regulations reinforced by the government that varies on the religion?
10. Were there contradicting ways of coping with the cultural revolution between Benzhu worshippers and Muslims?
Thank you for your kindness, and I would be grateful for any guidance.
Dr. Wellen has not written back, but I am still hoping as I sent the email quite recently. I will update this page once he replies.