1st Edition

Daoism in Modern China Clerics and Temples in Urban Transformations,1860–Present

Edited By Vincent Goossaert, Xun Liu Copyright 2021
    278 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    278 Pages 10 B/W Illustrations
    by Routledge

    This book questions whether temples and Daoism are two independent aspects of modern Chinese religion or if they are indissolubly linked. It presents a useful analysis as to how modern history has changed the structure and organization of religious and social life in China, and the role that Daoism plays in this.

    Using an interdisciplinary approach combining historical research and fieldwork, this book focuses on urban centers in China, as this is where sociopolitical changes came earliest and affected religious life to the greatest extent and also where the largest central Daoist temples were and are located. It compares case studies from central, eastern, and southern China with published evidence and research on other Chinese cities. Contributors examine how Daoism interacted with traditional urban social, cultural, and commercial institutions and pays close attention to how it dealt with processes of state expansion, commercialization, migration, and urban development in modern times. This book also analyses the evolution of urban religious life in modern China, particularly the ways in which temple communities, lay urbanites, and professional Daoists interact with one another.

    A solid ethnography that presents an abundance of new historical information, this book will be of interest to academics in the field of Asian studies, Daoist studies, Asian religions, and modern China.


    Part I Historical overview

    1. Urban Daoists, from 1860 to the present.

    V. Goossaert

    2. The Martial Marquis Shrine: Politics of Temple Expropriation and Restitution, and Struggles of Daoist Revival in Contemporary Nanyang.

    Xun Liu

    Part II Spirit-writing temples and their networks

    3. The Jin’gaishan Network: A lay Quanzhen Daoist Organization in Modern Jiangnan.

    V. Goossaert

    4. The Dao in the Southern Seas. The Diffusion of the Lüzu Cult from Meizhou to Bangkok.

    Yau Chi-on

    Part III Householder urban Daoists

    5. The Modern Transformations of the Old Eastern Peak Temple in Hangzhou.

    Fang Ling

    6. Zhengyi Daoists and Daily Life in the Baoqing Pier Neighborhood in Modern Hankou.

    Mei Li & Xun Liu


    Vincent Goossaert is Professor of Daoism and Chinese Religions at Ecole Pratique des Hautes Etudes, PSL, France.

    Xun Liu is Professor of History at Rutgers University, USA.

    The historical and ethnographic detail is this edited volume is impressive and valuable as a record of the history of modern Daoism. Scholars of Chinese religion, especially those focusing on the modern period and Daoism, will find this book worthwhile, and the book is recommended as a library acquisition.-- Jean DeBernardi, University of Alberta, USA

    The volume combines historical research and fieldwork to investigate cases that document how certain Daoist institutions, clerics, and lay followers attempted to retain a religious and social presence in China’s big cities. All contributions discover original and significant aspects of social and religious life.-- Barbara Hendrischke, University of Vienna, Austria. Religious Studies Review

    This volume represents an illuminating and comprehensive study of Daoist clerics and temples in the context of Chinese modern urbanization. Authored by five seasoned scholars, Fang Ling, Vincent Goossaert, Xun Liu, Li Mei, and Yau Chi-on, it comprises six articles and focuses on urban centers, ‘where sociopolitical changes came earliest and affected religious life to the greatest extent.’ It examines the evolution of urban Daoist life in modern China, and how temple communities, lay urbanites, professional Daoists who shape local religious systems, and ritual specialists interact with one another (1). Consisting of three parts, each containing two chapters, this book provides an analytical background as well as five case studies from central, eastern, and southern China, all of which are derived from extensive historical research and fieldwork. [...] The strengths of this book lie in its well-developed theoretical framework featured in the first chapter, meticulously researched case studies derived from extensive historical research and fieldwork, the design of six individual essays that could constitute a greater article, and the volume’s outlook for possible fields of future research. The untimely passing of Li Mei in 2020, just as she was about to reveal the full extent of her talent, should leave all of us with great sorrow even as we enjoy this book, as we will never see more of her work and collaborations with other colleagues in the future. However, her passing serves as an inspiration for us to continue moving forward and to strive for further research achievements as a tribute to individuals like Li Mei who have dedicated their lives to scholarly pursuits.-- Kaiwen Jin Sichuan University, China. Religion, 27 Oct 2023.