Religion in Contemporary China : Revitalization and Innovation book cover
1st Edition

Religion in Contemporary China
Revitalization and Innovation

Edited By

Adam Yuet Chau

ISBN 9780415838108
Published March 9, 2014 by Routledge
264 Pages 20 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Before the modernist transformations of the twentieth century, China had one of the richest and most diverse religious cultures in the world. The radical anti-traditionalist policies of both the Republican and Communist regimes as well as other socio-historical factors posed formidable challenges to China’s religious traditions but, this book argues, these conditions also presented new opportunities for re-generation and innovation.

It shows that economic reforms and the concurrent relaxation of religious policies have provided fertile ground for the revitalization of a wide array of religious practices, including divination, ancestor worship, temple festivals, spirit mediumism, churchgoing, funeral rites, exorcism, pilgrimages, sectarianism, sutra chanting, and the printing and distribution of morality books. Equally new forms of religious practices have emerged such as lay Buddhist preachers, "Maoist shamans", and a range of qigong sects/schools.

Written by an international, interdisciplinary team of experts who have all conducted in-depth fieldwork research in China, this book provides a wide-ranging survey of contemporary religious practices in China. It examines the different processes and mechanisms of religious revivals and innovations, and, more broadly, relates the Chinese example of religious revitalization to larger issues of social and cultural continuity and change.

Table of Contents

1. Introduction: Revitalizing and Innovating Religious Traditions in Contemporary China   2. Buddhism in the Reform Era: A Secularized Revival?  3. Morality Books and the Re-Growth of Lay Buddhism in China 4. From Ritual Skills to Discursive Knowledge: Changing Styles of Daoist Transmission in Shanghai  5. Networks and the "Cloudlike Wandering" of Daoist Monks in China Today 6. Temples as Enterprises  7. Revival in Crisis: Amateur Ritual Associations in Hebei  8. Chinese Religious Innovation in the Qigong Movement: The Case of Zhonggong  9. Global Modernity, Local Community, and Spiritual Power in the Shanxi Catholic Church

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Adam Yuet Chau is University Lecturer in the Anthropology of Modern China in the Department of East Asian Studies at the University of Cambridge, UK.  He is the author of Miraculous Response: Doing Popular Religion in Contemporary China.