Journal of Linguistics and Literature
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Journal of Linguistics and Literature. 2020, 4(2), 54-59
DOI: 10.12691/jll-4-2-2
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Learning Arabic as a Third Space: An Ethnography of Chinese Muslim Women

Jia Li1, Yuanmeng Ma1, and Yuanyuan Bi2

1Foreign Language School, Yunnan University, Kunming, China

2Foreign Affairs Department, Yunnan University, Kunming, China

Pub. Date: July 22, 2020

Cite this paper:
Jia Li, Yuanmeng Ma and Yuanyuan Bi. Learning Arabic as a Third Space: An Ethnography of Chinese Muslim Women. Journal of Linguistics and Literature. 2020; 4(2):54-59. doi: 10.12691/jll-4-2-2


In the context of China-oriented new economy, non-English foreign languages have been conceptualized as capital for China’s global governance and individuals’ upward mobility. As one of the valorized foreign languages, Arabic is gaining in importance in China. Adopting the concept of language investment [1,2], this study examines Arabic language learning trajectories of three Chinese women from a Muslim-centered and poverty-stricken region in China. Findings demonstrate that learning Arabic constitutes a third space for Chinese Muslim women’s identity transformations and empowerment in fulfilling their educational and employment prospects. However, their empowerment is not without contestations but restricted in the wider structural constraints that are beyond their control. The study concludes by considering the implications for language policy and language education.

learning Arabic Chinese Muslim women language investment

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