17. Popular Religion, the State, and Local Society


Adams, Ian, Riley Adams & Rocco Galati, Power of the Wheel: The Falun Gong Revolution. Toronto: Stoddart, 2000.


Agnew, Christopher S. “Bureaucrats, Sectarians, and the Descendants of Confucius.” Late Imperial China 31.1 (2010): 1-27.

Abstract: Through an examination of an investigation of heterodoxy and corruption, this article explores the relationship between the Kongs of Qufu, the recognized descendants of Confucius, and the bureaucracy of the Qing state in the early nineteenth century. In 1811, the Kongs were scandalized by revelations that officials of their estate had been accepting contributions of silver from a popular religious association decried as “heterodox” by the Qing state. This study of the subsequent investigation reveals the bureaucratic dynamics of anti-corruption cases; provincial officials drove the interrogations to increasingly violent extremes in the search for silver. The unusual arrangement linking the Kong estate to a sectarian organization is also suggestive. While the declining fortunes of the Kongs contributed to an increased motivation to forge patronage relationships with alternative social networks, it also weakened the Kong duke’s ability to protect his mansion bureaucracy from intrabureaucratic attack.


Aijmer, Göran & Virgil K. Y. Ho. Cantonese Society in a Time of Change. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press, 2000. [Note: See chapters 8 through 13 for information on ancestral cult, temples, and the revival of popular religion in Pearl River Delta villages.]


Allio, Fiorella, "Rituel, territoire et pouvoir local: Le procession du "pays" de Sai-kang (T'ainan, Taiwan)." Doctoral dissertation, U. de Paris X, Paris-Nanterre, 1996.


Allio, Fiorella, "Procession et identité: mise en scène rituelle de l'histoire locale." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10 (1998): 1-18.

Abstract: This article focuses on the Sai-kang procession, an inter-communal ritual performed by local people, with distinct territorial implications. Processions constitute the ritual form most clearly connected with local territory, history, and the environment. Performed in the name of tutelary deities, they reveal the supernatural map of a region. They also establish a direct and concrete relationship between local inhabitants and their living space, while organizing the latter politically and symbolically. Processions demarcate borders and deploy spiritual and physical defenses, while staging socio-political interactions among constituted groups and individuals. The triennial procession of Sai-kang, named koah-hiu*, "to cut and share incense," and held without interruption since 1784, draws delegations from eighty-odd contiguous cult communities, binding them in a supra-local alliance. The procession takes place within a larger festival marking the visitation of the Gods of Pestilence and comprising other collective rituals, such as Taoist jiao. The location is the region of the earliest large-scale Hokkien immigration in Taiwan. The ritual shows how important territorial religious activities have been for the definition of the pioneer frontier, the establishment of local identity and the power, and the expression and development of local traditions and culture. In Sai-kang, the history of the ritual merges with the history of regional settlement, as well as a succession of geomorphologic disruptions (land reclamation, resettlement, river diversions, flood, alluvia, drying up). Such upheavals left profound marks on the collective memory, in time translated into various symbolic inscriptions. Beside manifesting a higher-level alliance, the procession also dramatizes ritualized competitions for prestige, mingled with motifs of old rivalries. The processional ritual presents a dynamic and living tableau of local history and society. It constitutes an unusual but highly pertinent source for historians. [Source: article]


Allio, Fiorella. "Matsu Enshrined in the Sanctuary of World Heritage: The 2009 Inscription of 'Mazu Belief and Customs' on UNESCO's Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity and the Role of Taiwan in Preserving the Cult of the Goddess." In Yanjiu xin shijie: “Mazu yu Huaren minjian xinyang” guoji yantaohui lunwenji, ed. Wang Chien-chuan, Li Shiwei, Hong Yingfa, 91-180. Taipei: Boyang, 2014.


Antony, Robert J. "Ethnic and Religious Violence in South China: The Hakka-Tiandihui Uprising of 1802." Frontiers of History in China 11, no.4 (2016): 532-562.


Bari, Dominique, "Chine--Maître Kong et les superstitions: le bras de fer." La Pensée 303 (1995): 125-136.


Bastid-Bruguière, Marianne, "La campagne anti-religieuse de 1922." Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident 24(2002): 77-93.


Bejesky, Robert. "Falun Gong & Re-education through Labor: Traditional Rehabilitation for the 'Misdirected' to Protect Societal Stability within China's Evolving Criminal Justice System." Columbia Journal of Asian Law 17 (2004) 2: 147-189.


Bohr, P. Richard, "Jesus, Christianity, and Rebellion in China. The Evangelical Roots of the Taiping Heavenly Kingdom." In: Roman Malek [ed.], The Chinese Face of Jesus Christ. Vol.2. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica and China-Zentrum; Nettetal: Steyler Verlag, 2003. Pp.613-661.


Brook, Timothy. "The Politics of Religion: Late Imperial Origins of the Regulatory State.“ In: Ashiwa, Yoshiko & David L. Wank [eds.], Making Religion, Making the State: The Politics of Religion in Modern China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009. Pp. 22-42.

Bryson, Megan. Goddess on the Frontier: Religion, Ethnicity, and Gender in Southwest China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2016.

Abstract: Dali is a small region on a high plateau in Southeast Asia. Its main deity, Baijie, has assumed several gendered forms throughout the area's history: Buddhist goddess, the mother of Dali's founder, a widowed martyr, and a village divinity. What accounts for so many different incarnations of a local deity? Goddess on the Frontier argues that Dali's encounters with forces beyond region and nation have influenced the goddess's transformations. Dali sits at the cultural crossroads of Southeast Asia, India, and Tibet; it has been claimed by different countries but is currently part of Yunnan Province in Southwest China. Megan Bryson incorporates historical-textual studies, art history, and ethnography in her book to argue that Baijie provided a regional identity that enabled Dali to position itself geopolitically and historically. In doing so, Bryson provides a case study of how people craft local identities out of disparate cultural elements and how these local identities transform over time in relation to larger historical changes—including the increasing presence of the Chinese state. (Source: publisher's website)


Bujard, Marianne, "Célébration et promotion des cultes locaux. Six stèles des Han orientaux." Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient 87 (2000): 247-266.

Abstract: Six stèles des Han orientaux (25-220) témoignent de la procédure engagée par des fonctionnaires locaux pour obtenir la reconnaissance officielle d'un ensemble de cultes établis dans les montagnes du district de Yuanshi, situé au sud de la ville actuelle de Shijia zhuang au Hebei. Érigées sur des lieux de cultes voisins et pendant une période limitée, elles ont l'avantage de nous mettre en contact avec un milieu relativement homogène, celui des fonctionnaires à l'échelon du royaume et du district. On y lit de plus une évolution du niveau des fonctionnaires impliqués dans la promotion des cultes : au début l'initiative provient essentiellement de l'administration locale, tandis qu'à l'aube de la révolte des Turbans Jaunes, le principal promoteur des cultes n'est autre que le chancelier du royaume de Changshan (dont relève le district du Yuanshi). Elles nous renseignent aussi sur les différentes catégories de fidèles qui s'assemblent sur les lieux de culte et les maintiennent en activité : population des environs, fonctionnaires, adeptes des cultes d'immortalité, et peut-être, dans la fameuse stèle du Seigneur de la Pierre Blanche, érigée en 183 de notre ère, une association de responsables cultuels se désignant eux-mêmes par des titres administratifs. On y trouve encore plusieurs éléments concernant le financement des sacrifices, le type d'offrandes consacrées, la périodicité des cérémonies. Dans la mesure où de tels cultes ne sont pas consignés dans les annales officielles, ces sources épigraphiques constituent un matériau unique pour élargir notre compréhension de la religion des Han à un niveau local."

"Celebration and Promotion of Local Cults. Six Steles of the Eastern Han" Six steles erected during the Eastern Han dynasty (25-220) in Yuanshi, near Shijia zhuang (Hebei), give evidence about the procedures followed by local government officials for obtaining the recognition of local cults. Because the places of worship were mountains close to each other geographically and the process of recognition took just a few decades, it is possible to analyse the motivations of the relatively homogeneous milieu that was responsible for the promotion of the cults. These inscriptions show an evolution in the administrative level of the officials involved in the promotion of the cults. At the beginning, support came from the officers on the district level ; at the end, on the eve of the Yellow Turban rebellion, the most active promoter of the recognition personally involved in the worship was the chancellor of the Changshan kingdom to which Yuanshi belonged. In the famous stele of the Lord of the White Stone erected in 183 CE, the emergence of worshipper associations and the considerable financial support they brought to the cult, in addition to official support, may also be observed. Since these cults are not mentioned in the official annals but enjoyed &endash; maybe even during the Western Han &endash; imperial sponsorship, their being recorded in epigraphic sources adds to our understanding of the way officials dealt with local worship on a very concrete level. These inscriptions also give precious information about the variety of actors and worshippers involved in local celebrations." [Source: journal]


Bujard, Marianne. “State and Local Cults in Han Religion.” In: John Lagerwey and Marc Kalinowski [eds.], Early Chinese Religion: Part One: Shang through Han (1250 BC-220 AD). Leiden: Brill, 2009. Pp.777-811.


Bujard, Marianne. “Cultes d’État et cultes locaux dans la religion des Han.” In: John Lagerwey [ed.], Religion et société en Chine ancienne et médiévale. Paris: Les Éditions du Cerf/Institut Ricci, 2009. Pp. 305-337.


Casil, Janice. "Falun Gong and China's Human Rights Violations." Peace Review 16 (2004) 2: 225-230.


Chae, Jun Hyung. "Religion, Charity, and Contested Local Society: Daoyuan and World Red Swastika Society in Eastern Shandong, 1920-1954." PhD dissertation, The University of Chicago, 2015.

Abstract: This study describes Daoyuan, a syncretic popular religion that emerged after the Great War, and its charity wing, the World Red Swastika Society. Focusing on this popular religion's active involvement in public affairs from 1920 to 1954, mostly in Shandong province, it explores how this religious organization developed its networks and businesses, as well as how its syncretic belief shaped its unique religious identity. It also examines the complex relationship between religious charity and the state in modern China. Religious charity in this project focuses on charitable works by the popular religion. One of the purposes of this research is to view local popular religions as influential social actors. It also creates a vehicle for exploring the ways various charitable works by these groups served as a critical node in which religious and secular forces overlapped. Few historians mention the role of religion in the social formation of modern China. This study aims to contribute to the scholarly discussion on religion-state relations in the modern Chinese context. It is, however, neither another simple reiterated critique of secularization theory, nor a grandiose theorization of Chinese religiosities. Instead, it presents the informal religious sector as an alternative within the socio-historical context of modern China. By so doing, it challenges the secular modernity thesis, and argues that there were various ways to become modern.


Chan, Selina Ching & Graeme S. Lang. “Temple Construction and the Revival of Popular Religion in Jinhua.” China Information 21.1 (2007): 43-69.

Abstract: This article examines a case of temple construction that was initiated by officials and cadres rather than by locals. The temple construction and religious revival are analyzed in the light of complex dynamics between the cadres at the United Front, provincial office, municipal government, township office, and religious bureau, as well as between these cadres and the locals—the intellectuals, village elders, religious specialists, and villagers. For the cadres and officials, the temple was intended as local heritage to attract tourists and ultimately to boost the local economy. However, the temple did not draw sufficient visitors as planned, whether foreign or local. On the other hand, the popularity of the deity associated with the temple took off. We suggest that whether the villagers identify culturally with the temple and lend it their support is crucial in determining its success. The fate of the temple will hence depend ultimately on the ability of the management committee to mobilize and involve local networks in the temple's activities. [Source: journal]


Chan, Selina Ching & Graeme Lang. Building Temples in China: Memories, Tourism and Identities. London, New York: Routledge, 2014.

Abstract: Much has been written on how temples are constructed or reconstructed for reviving local religious and communal life or for recycling tradition after the market reforms in China. The dynamics between the state and society that lie behind the revival of temples and religious practices initiated by the locals have been well-analysed. However, there is a gap in the literature when it comes to understanding religious revivals that were instead led by local governments. This book examines the revival of worship of the Chinese Deity Huang Daxian and the building of many new temples to the god in mainland China over the last 20 years. It analyses the role of local governments in initiating temple construction projects in China, and how development-oriented temple-building activities in Mainland China reveal the forces of transnational ties, capital, markets and identities, as temples were built with the hope of developing tourism, boosting the local economy, and enhancing Chinese identities for Hong Kong worshippers and Taiwanese in response to the reunification of Hong Kong to China. Including chapters on local religious memory awakening, pilgrimage as a form of tourism, women temple managers, entrepreneurialism and the religious economy, and based on extensive fieldwork, Chan and Lang have produced a truly interdisciplinary follow up to The Rise of a Refugee God which will appeal to students and scholars of Chinese religion, Chinese culture, Asian anthropology, cultural heritage and Daoism alike. (Source: publisher's website)


Chang, Hsun. “Between Religion and State: the Dajia Pilgrimage in Taiwan.” Social Compass 59.3 (2012): 298-310.

Abstract: In this paper the author will utilize both anthropological and historical approaches to illustrate how religion and the State intersect in the Dajia Mazu pilgrimage. Moreover, she will critique the conventional binary model of sacred versus profane by demonstrating how these two concepts are intricately intertwined in the course of the Dajia pilgrimage. The article aims to: provide a brief introduction and background to the Dajia pilgrimage; explore how the pilgrimage route is determined; discuss the protagonists involved in the choice of the pilgrimage route – temple committee leaders and members, as well as local politicians; and examine how temple committee members exploit the pilgrimage to express dissent against the central government of Taiwan. (Source: journal)


Chang, Kuei-min. "Between Spiritual Economy and Religious Commodification: Negotiating Temple Autonomy in Contemporary China." The China Quarterly, no. 242 (2020): 440–459.

Abstract: This research investigates the contentious use of temple assets amid wide- spread local state-led religious commodification in contemporary China. Based on a comparative analysis of 22 historic temples, this paper argues that given the choice, temple leaders strive for property-management autonomy, which they negotiate on two fronts. Externally, owing to the immobility of historic temple assets, temple leaders avoid antagonizing local state agents by demonstrating political conformity and the temple's economic contribution. Internally, they seek to build a donation-based merit economy to sustain the monastic institution. Since such autonomy must operate within the authoritarian state's regulatory framework, the restrained contestation of the religious leadership actually helps to strengthen state control over religion.


Chang, Maria H., Falun Gong: The End of Days. New Haven, CT: Yale University Press, 2004.

Abstract: The world first took notice of a religious group called Falun Gong on April 25, 1999, when more than 10,000 of its followers protested before the Chinese Communist headquarters in Beijing. Falun Gong investigates events in the wake of the demonstration: Beijing's condemnation of the group as a Western, anti-Chinese force and doomsday cult, the sect's continued defiance, and the nationwide campaign that resulted in the incarceration and torture of many Falun Gong faithful.

Maria Hsia Chang discusses the Falun Gong's beliefs, including their ideas on cosmology, humanity's origin, karma, reincarnation, UFOs, and the coming apocalypse. She balances an account of the Chinese government's case against the sect with an evaluation of the credibility of those accusations. Describing China's long history of secret societies that initiated powerful uprisings and sometimes overthrew dynasties, she explains the Chinese government's brutal treatment of the sect. And she concludes with a chronicle of the ongoing persecution of religious groups in China--of which Falun Gong is only one of many--and the social conditions that breed the popular discontent and alienation that spawn religious millenarianism. [Source: publisher's website]


Chang, Wen-Chun. “Buddhism, Taoism, Folk Religions, and Rebellions: Empirical Evidence from Taiwan.” Journal of Asian and African Studies 45.4 (2010): 445-460.

Abstract: This study investigates the influences of religion in determining whether to support what might be perceived to be rebellious actions in Taiwan where most people are adherents of Buddhism, Taoism, and folk religions. Using data from the Taiwan Social Change Survey 2004, the estimations of the probit model suggest that there are some strong links between religion and the attitudes toward rebellious actions. In particular, being a Taoist reduces the probability of protest participation while being a Buddhist and being a folk religionist cut the likelihood of signing a petition. Moreover, the frequencies of religious attendance are positively associated with the probabilities of participating in a protest, signing a petition, and taking actions against injustice or harmful regulations.


Chau, Adam Yuet, "The Dragon King Valley: Popular Religion, Socialist State, and Agrarian Society in Shaanbei, North-Central China." Thesis (Ph.D.), Stanford University, 2001, 281p.

Abstract: This dissertation is an ethnographic account of the revival and social organization of a popular religious temple in contemporary rural Shaanbei (northern Shaanxi Province), north-central China. Considered as "feudal superstition," the Black Dragon King Temple was destroyed during the Cultural Revolution. Soon after the reform era began in the early 1980s, however, villagers rebuilt the temple, expanded it, and made it into one of the most popular temples in Shaanbei. Based on a total of 18 months of fieldwork, this dissertation presents the story of the Black Dragon Temple as a case of popular religious revival. Three important conditions of possibilities lie behind popular religious revivals in Shaanbei. First, the social organization of popular religious activities replicates the principles and mechanisms of the organization of peasant secular life, which enabled quick revitalization of popular religion even after severe suppression. The temple association is examined as a key folk social institution staging much of Shaanbei folk culture. Second, village-level local activists seize upon temples and temple associations as valuable political, economic, and symbolic resource. The re-appearance of temples as sites of power generation and contestation is accompanied by the emergence of a new kind of local elite. The story of a temple boss and his legitimation strategies illustrates the shifting socio-political terrain in contemporary rural China. Third, shifting priorities compel the local state to regulate and even to profit from popular religion rather than suppress it, thus giving temples space to thrive. [Source: Dissertation Abstracts International]


Chau, Adam Yuet. "Hosting Funerals and Temple Festivals: Folk Event Productions in Rural China." Asian Anthropology 3(2004): 39-70.


Chau, Adam Yuet. "The Politics of Legitimation and the Revival of Popular Religion in Shaanbei, North-Central China." Modern China 31(2005)2: 236-278.

Abstract: From the early 1980s onward, popular religion has enjoyed a momentous revival in Shaanbei (northern Shaanxi province), as in many other parts of rural China. But despite its immense popularity, popular religion still carries with it an aura of illegality and illegitimacy. Not properly Daoism or Buddhism, which are among the officially recognized religions, popular religion in theory constitutes illegal, superstitious activities. This article addresses questions of the legality and legitimacy of popular religion by analyzing the case of the Black Dragon King Temple in Shaanbei and its temple boss. It examines how not just popular religiosity but the actions of local elites and local state agents have enabled the revival of popular religious activities, focusing particularly on the legitimation politics engaged in by temples and their leaders. [Source: journal]


Chau, Adam Yuet. Miraculous Response: Doing Popular Religion in Contemporary China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2006.

Abstract: Based on a total of 18 months of fieldwork in Shaanbei (northern Shaanxi province), this is the first book-length ethnographic case study of the revival of a popular religious temple in contemporary rural China.

The book reveals that "doing popular religion" is much more complex than praying to gods and burning incense. It examines the organizational and cultural logics that inform the staging of popular religious activities such as temple festivals. It also shows the politics behind the religious revival: the village-level local activists who seize upon temples and temple associations as a valuable political, economic, and symbolic resource, and the different local state agents who interact with temple associations and temple bosses. The study sheds unique light on shifting state-society relationships in the reform era, and is of interest to scholars and students in Asian Studies, the social sciences, and religious and ritual studies. [Source: publisher's website]


Chau, Adam Yuet. “Expanding the Space of Popular Religion: Local Temple Activism and the Politics of Legitimation in Contemporary Rural China.” In: Ashiwa, Yoshiko & David L. Wank [eds.], Making Religion, Making the State: The Politics of Religion in Modern China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009. Pp. 211-240.

Chau, Adam Yuet. "Mao’s Travelling Mangoes: Food as Relic in Revolutionary China." Past & Present 2010, Supplement 5: 256-275. Online edition.


Chau, Adam Yuet. “Chinese Socialism and the Household Idiom of Religious Engagement.” In Atheist Secularism and Its Discontents: A Comparative Study of Religion and Communism in Eurasia, edited by Tam T.T. Ngo and Justine B. Quijada, 225-243. Houndmills: Palgrave Macmillan, 2015.


Chen, Chiung Hwang. "Framing Falun Gong: Xinhua News Agency's Coverage of the New Religious Movement in China." Asian Journal of Communication 15 (2005)1: 16-36.


Chen, Nancy N., "Urban Spaces and Experiences of Qigong." In: Deborah S. Davis, Richard Kraus, Barry Naughton, and Elizabeth J. Perry [eds.], Urban Spaces in Contemporary China: The Potential for Autonomy and Community in Post-Mao China. Cambridge: Woodrow Wilson Center Press & Cambridge University Press, 1995. Pp.347-361.


Chen, Nancy N., "Falungong: Cultivating Qi and Body Politic." Harvard Asia Pacific Review 4(2000)1: 45-49.


Chen, Nancy N., Breathing Spaces: Qigong, Psychiatry, and Healing in China. New York: Columbia University Press, 2003.

Abstract: The charismatic form of healing called qigong, based on meditative breathing exercises, has achieved enormous popularity in China during the last two decades. Qigong served a critical social organizational function, as practitioners formed new informal networks, sometimes on an international scale, at a time when China was shifting from state-subsidized medical care to for-profit market medicine. The emergence of new psychological states deemed to be deviant led the Chinese state to "medicalize" certain forms while championing scientific versions of qigong. By contrast, qigong continues to be promoted outside China as a traditional healing practice. Breathing Spaces brings to life the narratives of numerous practitioners, healers, psychiatric patients, doctors, and bureaucrats, revealing the varied and often dramatic ways they cope with market reform and social changes in China. [Source: publisher's website]


Chen, Nancy N., "Healing Sects and Anti-Cult Campaigns." The China Quarterly 174(2003): 505-520.


Chen Xi & Hoyt Cleveland Tillman. “Ghosts, Gods, and the Ritual Practice of Local Officials during the Song: With a Focus on Zhu Xi in Nankang Prefecture.” Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 44 (2014): 287-323.


Cheung, Anne S.Y., "In Search of a Theory of Cult and Freedom of Religion in China: The Case of Falun Gong." Pacific Rim Law and Policy Journal 13(2004)1: 1-30.


Chi, Chang-Hui, "The Politics of Deification and Nationalist Ideology: A Case Study of Quemoy." Thesis (Ph.D.), Boston University, 2000, 236p.

Abstract: This anthropological study explores the cults of two ghostly deities emerging after 1949 on the Quemoy Islands, Republic of China. These cults became the foci of a symbolic contest between local inhabitants and the Kuomintang (KMT) military authorities over the interpretation of their meaning. Based on 11 months of ethnographic fieldwork and interviews conducted in 1996-97, as well as archival research, this work employs a case study of religion to examine the limits of authoritarian rule.

Quemoy is a KMT frontline military zone located in close proximity to the People's Republic of China (PRC) and was a symbol of the threat posed by the PRC during the Cold War era. The KMT had given high priority to controlling the islands by means of a military government and a nationalist ideology. To this end, it particularly sponsored the cults of a slain general, Li Guangqian, and another of a chaste female martyr, Lienu, to serve as the foci for veneration. They then became icons in a KMT Orientalist nationalist ideology in which they were officially deified and their worship was elevated in the manner of a state cult: the two deified martyrs received regular homage from the military. By contrast, local villagers interpreted the cults as an excuse for hot and noisy carnival celebrations that provided a temporary liberation from the prevailing nationalist ideology and military gaze.

With the end of the Cold War and reduced tension in the Taiwan Strait in the late 1980s, KMT Orientalist nationalism began to lose its grip. In consequence, the meaning of the cults was replaced with themes that reflected a search for a new Taiwanese identity and nationhood. This dynamic politics of deification now stands for the contesting forces in a quest for nationhood.

This dissertation takes villagers' interpretations as a case of what Bakhtin called "dialogized heteroglossia," where events are loaded with possible meanings in specific contexts. It sheds light on the anthropological study of religion and state hegemony by showing the dynamics of discourse objectifying local consciousness under authoritarian rule. [Source: Dissertation Abstracts International]


Chia, Jie L. „State Regulations and Divine Oppositions: An Ethnography of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival in Singapore.“ Religions 11, no. 7 (2020): 330. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel11070330

Abstract: Studies of popular Chinese religions in Singapore have mostly focused on the relationship between Chinese religious practitioners and state regulations delimiting land for religious uses. Local scholars have also studied the state's active construction of a domain within which local religions can operate, often rationalized as a means of maintaining harmonious relations between ethnic and religious groups. However, little attention has been paid to the symbolic spatial negotiations that exist between the gods and the Singaporean state. Through an ethnographic study of the Nine Emperor Gods Festival as organized by the Choa Chu Kang Dou Mu Gong (蔡厝港斗母宫), I analyze the tensions between the impositions of state authority upon the temple's annual festival and the divine authority of the Nine Emperor Gods, as reproduced in the festival's rituals and in the bodies of their spirit mediums. Borrowing Marshall Sahlins' idea of inclusive "cosmic polities," I argue that the Nine Emperor Gods, devotees, and state actors do not exist in separate "secular" and "divine" dimensions but rather, co-participate in the same complex society. By serving as a fertile ground upon which the divine bureaucracy of the Nine Emperor Gods is reproduced, the festival's articulations of divine sovereignty provide a potent challenge to state-imposed imaginations of space and expand devotees' understandings of agency from state-defined and into the larger cosmological order.


Ching, Julia, "The Falun Gong: Religious and Political Implications." American Asian Review 19(2001)4: 1-18.


Ching, Julia. "The Falun Gong: Religious and Political Implications." In: Tun-Jen Cheng & Deborah A. Brown [eds.], Religious Organizations and Democratization: Case Studies from Conremporary Asia. Armonk, NY: M.E. Sharpe, 2006. Pp. 41-54.


Chung, Jae Ho; Lai, Hongyi; Xia, Ming. "Mounting Challenges to Governance in China: Surveying Collective Protestors, Religious Sects and Criminal Organizations." China Journal 56 (2006): 1-31.


Clart, Philip. “Parteikader und Drachenkönige: Niedergang und Rückkehr der Volksreligion in der Volksrepublik China.“ In Religionen und gesellschaftlicher Wandel in China, edited by Iwo Amelung & Thomas Schreijäck, 129-142. Munich: Iudicium, 2012.


Clart, Philip. “’Religious Ecology’ as a New Model for the Study of Religious Diversity in China.” In: Religious Diversity in Chinese Thought, ed. by Perry Schmidt-Leukel & Joachim Gentz, 187-199. New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013.

Cooper, Gene. The Market and Temple Fairs of Rural China: Red Fire. London & New York: Routledge, 2012.

Abstract: During the early communist period of the 1950s, temple fairs in China were both suppressed and secularized. Temples were closed down by the secular regime and their activities classified as feudal superstition and this process only intensified during the Cultural Revolution when even the surviving secular fairs, devoted exclusively to trade with no religious content of any kind, were suppressed. However, once China embarked on its path of free market reform and openness, secular commodity exchange fairs were again authorized, and sometimes encouraged in the name of political economy as a means of stimulating rural commodity circulation and commerce. This book reveals how once these secular "temple-less temple fairs" were in place, they came to serve not only as venues for the proliferation of a great variety of popular cultural performance genres, but also as sites where a revival or recycling of popular religious symbols, already underway in many parts of China, found familiar and fertile ground in which to spread. Taking this shift in the Chinese state’s attitudes and policy towards temple fairs as its starting point, The Market and Temple Fairs of Rural China shows how state-led economic reforms in the early 1980s created a revival in secular commodity exchange fairs, which were granted both the geographic and metaphoric space to function. In turn, this book presents a comprehensive analysis of the temple fair phenomenon, examining its economic, popular cultural, popular religious and political dimensions and demonstrates the multifaceted significance of the fairs which have played a crucial role in expanding the boundaries of contemporary acceptable popular discourse and expression. (Source: publisher's website)


Dean, Kenneth, "Ritual and Space: Civil Society or Popular Religion?" In: Timothy Brook & B. Michael Frolic [eds.], Civil Society in China. Armonk, NY: M.E.Sharpe, 1997. Pp.172-192.


Dean, Kenneth, "Despotic Empire/Nation-State: Local Responses to Chinese Nationalism in an Age of Global Capitalism." In: Kuan-hsing Chen et al. [eds.], Trajectories: Inter-Asia Cultural Studies. London & New York: Routledge, 1998. Pp.153-185.


Dean, Kenneth, "Transformation of the She (Altars of the Soil) in Fujian." Cahiers d'Extrême-Asie 10 (1998): 19-75.

Abstract: Par un examen des transformations du she (autel du sol) dans le district de Putian (Fujian), l'auteur se penche sur la création d'un espace sacré. Il examine d'abord les notions du she dans la région de Putian sous les Song, puis le développement d'une hiérarchie des temples en site propre dans la plaine irriguée. Il analyse ensuite les efforts de la cour au début des Ming pour standardiser les she et les rituels afférents. A ces efforts succédèrent les modifications locales quant à la théorie et la pratique du she. Un travail sur le terrain dans la région de Jiangkou lui permet de scruter les mutations du she à la fin des Ming et sous les Qing. Il étudie par ailleurs les attitudes vis-à-vis du she dans des ouvrages littéraires et dans des inscriptions sur pierre datant des Ming et des Qing dans la région de Putian, ainsi que les changements dans l'organisation du rituel au niveau des villages. Du milieu des Ming jusqu'aux Qing, une transition s'opère entre les formes d'organisation rituelle basée sur le lignage ou la parenté et des formes à bases territoriales. Les dernières pages contiennent une discussion sur le recouvrement de l'espace sacré au cours des quinze dernières années. Cette étude montre que les efforts, au début des Ming, pour institutionnaliser les structures et cérémonies rituelles au niveau inférieur du canton ont entraîné des conséquences imprévues. Le travail sur le terrain au Fujian durant ces derniers dix ans a fait apparaître des matériaux qui suggèrent que ces autels officiels se muèrent graduellement en une strate sous-jacente d'espace rituel de religion populaire. Les mesures prises périodiquement par l'État--jusqu'à l'époque contemporaine--pour affirmer sa suprématie par l'imposition d'un modèle standardisé et homologué d'espace rituel ont causé une tension insoluble entre l'État et les communautés rituelles locales en Asie orientale. [Source: article]


Dean, Kenneth, "China's Second Government: Regional Ritual Systems in Southeast China." In: Wang Ch'iu-kui, Chuang Ying-chang & Chen Chung-min [eds.], Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Hanxue Yanjiu Zhongxin, 2001. Pp.77-107.


Dean, Kenneth, "Local Communal Religion in Contemporary South-east China." The China Quarterly 174(2003): 338-358.


Dean, Kenneth, "Lineage and Territorial Cults: Transformations and Interactions in the Irrigated Putian Plains." In: Lin Mei-rong [ed.], Xinyang, yishi yu shehui: Di san jie guoji Hanxue huiyi lunwenji (renleixue zu) = Belief, Ritual and Society: Papers from the Third International Conference on Sinology (Anthropology Section). Taipei: Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, 2003. Pp.87-129.


Dean, Kenneth. “Further Partings of the Way: The Chinese State and Daoist Ritual Traditions in Contemporary China.” In: Ashiwa, Yoshiko & David L. Wank [eds.], Making Religion, Making the State: The Politics of Religion in Modern China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2009. Pp. 179-210.


Dean, Kenneth. "The Growth of Local Control over Cultural and Environmental Resources in Ming and Qing Coastal Fujian." In: The People and the Dao: New Studies in Chinese Religions in Honour in Prof. Daniel L. Overmyer, edited by Philip Clart & Paul Crowe. Sankt Augustin: Institut Monumenta Serica, 2009. Pp. 219-247.


Despeux, Catherine, "Le Qigong, une expression de la modernité chinoise." In: Jacques Gernet & Marc Kalinowski [eds.] (avec la collaboration de Jean-Pierre Diény), En suivant la voie royale: mélanges offerts en hommage à Léon Vandermeersch. Paris: École Française d'Extrême-Orient, 1997. Pp.267-281.

Abstract: Qigong as a practice combining martial arts, gymnastic and mental concentration became a fully recognized discipline after 1949. The first official organizations of Qigong focused on its therapeutic function, but in the 1980s they started to use it as an ideological tool in the constitution of science and to enhance China's contribution to postmodernity. [Source: article.]


Dorfman, Diane, "The Spirit of Reform: The Power of Belief in Northern China." Positions: East Asia Cultures Critique 4(1996)2: 253-289.


Duara, Prasenjit, Rescuing History from the Nation: Questioning Narratives of Modern China. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1995. (See part 2, ch.3)


Duara, Prasenjit. “Religion and Citizenship in China and the Diaspora.” In: Mayfair Mei-hui Yang [ed.], Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Pp. 43-64.


DuBois, Thomas, "Village Community and the Reconstruction of Religious Life in Rural North China." In: John Lagerwey [ed.], Religion and Chinese Society. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press / Paris: École française d'Extrême-Orient, 2004. Pp.837-868.


DuBois, Thomas David. The Sacred Village: Social Change and Religious Life in Rural North China. Honolulu, HI: University of Hawai'i Press, 2005.

Abstract: Until recently, few villagers of rural North China ventured far from their homes. Their intensely local view of the world included knowledge of the immanent sacred realm, which derived from stories of divine revelations, cures, and miracles that circulated among neighboring villages. These stories gave direction to private devotion and served as a source of expert information on who the powerful deities were and what role they played in the human world. The structure of local society also shaped public devotion, as different groups expressed their economic and social concerns in organized worship. While some of these groups remained structurally intact in the face of historical change, others have changed dramatically, resulting in new patterns of religious organization and practice.

The Sacred Village introduces local religious life in Cang County, Hebei Province, as a lens through which to view the larger issue of how rural Chinese perspectives and behaviors were shaped by the sweeping social, political, and demographic changes of the last two centuries. Thomas DuBois combines new archival sources in Chinese and Japanese with his own fieldwork to produce a work that is compelling and intimate in detail. This dual approach also allows him to address the integration of external networks into local society and religious mentality and posit local society as a particular sphere in which the two are negotiated and transformed. [Source: publisher's website]


DuBois, Thomas David. “Manchukuo’s Filial Sons: States, Sects and the Adaptation of Graveside Piety.” East Asian History 36 (2008): 3-27.


Edelman, Bryan & James T. Richardson, "Falun Gong and the Law: Development of Legal Social Control in China." Nova religio 6(2003)2: 312-331.


Edelman, Bryan; Richardson, James T. "Imposed Limitations on Freedom of Religion in China and the Margin of Appreciation Doctrine: A Legal Analysis of the Crackdown on the Falun Gong and Other 'Evil Cults'." A Journal of Church and State 47(2005)2: 243-267.


Eng, Irene & Yi-min Lin, "Religious Festivities, Communal Rivalry, and Restructuring of Authority Relations in Rural Chaozhou, Southeast China." Journal of Asian Studies 61(2002)4: 1259-1285.


Evans, Grant, "Ghosts and the New Governor: The Anthropology of a Hong Kong Rumour." In: Grant Evans & Maria Tam [eds.], Hong Kong: The Anthropology of a Chinese Metropolis. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 1997. Pp.266-296.


Fan, Lizhu, and Na Chen. “The Revival and Development of Popular Religion in China, 1980-Present.” In Modern Chinese Religion II, 1850-2015, edited by Vincent Goossaert, Jan Kiely, and John Lagerwey, 923-948. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2016. (Handbook of Oriental Studies, section 4: China, vol.32)


Fang Ling & Vincent Goossaert. "Les réformes funéraires et la politique religieuses de l'Etat chinois, 1900-2008." Archives de sciences sociales des religions 144 (2008): 51-73.


Faure, David, "The Emperor in the Village: Representing the State in South China." In: Joseph P. McDermott [ed.], State and Court Ritual in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Pp.267-298.


Faure, David, "State and Rituals in Modern China: Comments on the 'Civil Society' Debate." In: Wang Ch'iu-kui, Chuang Ying-chang & Chen Chung-min [eds.], Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Hanxue Yanjiu Zhongxin, 2001. Pp.509-536.


Feuchtwang, Stephan, "Local Religion and Village Identity." In: Tao Tao Liu & David Faure [eds.], Unity and Diversity: Local Cultures and Identities in China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1996. Pp.161-176.


Feuchtwang, Stephan, "Religion as Resistance." In: Elizabeth J. Perry & Mark Selden [eds.], Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance. London: Routledge, 2000. Pp.161-177.


Feuchtwang, Stephan & Wang Mingming, Grassroots Charisma in China: Four Local Leaders in China. London: Routledge, 2001. Note: A comparative study of religion and local leadership in Meifa (Fujian) and Shiding (Taiwan).


Feuchtwang, Stephan. “Centres and Margins: The Organisation of Extravagance as Self-Government in China.” In: Chang Hsun & Yeh Chuen-rong [eds.], Contemporary Religions in Taiwan: Unities and Diversities /Taiwan bentu zongjiao yanjiu: jiegou yu bianyi. Taipei: SMC Publishing, 2006. Pp.87-126.


Fisher, Gareth, "Resistance and Salvation in Falun Gong: the Promise and Peril of Forbearance." Nova religio 6(2003)2: 294-311.


Fisher, Gareth. "Universal Rescue: Re-making Post-Mao China in a Beijing Temple." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Virginia, 2006.

Abstract: Based on two years of ethnographic research at the Temple of Universal Rescue (Guangji Si) in Beijing, this dissertation examines both the content and process by which lay Buddhist practitioners create an alternative culture of meanings, relationships, and moralities to cope with a rapidly changing society. Specific focus is given to amateur lay preachers and their followers who convene in the temple's outer courtyard each week to combine Buddhist doctrine with other ideologies such as Mao Zedong thought. The goal of the preachers and their followers is to create a moral discourse which challenges the post-Mao Chinese state's narrative of progress through globalization and market reforms from which they have been both socially and economically marginalized.

Considering both historical and contemporary analogs to the practices of the lay practitioners and the amateur preachers around which they gather, the main body of the dissertation is organized around several cultural tropes through which the practitioners strive to inhabit their own universe of relationships and meanings. The last three chapters of the thesis examine how practitioners seek to apply this new framework to the moral reform of contemporary Chinese society which they understand as passing through a period of decline. The community of practitioners at the Temple of Universal Rescue is situated within a larger consideration of lay Buddhist revival in China as a whole. The dissertation concludes by considering how an imagined community of lay Buddhists provides a system of relationships, values, and exchange that takes its adherents beyond their immediate lives and concerns but that does not demand their adherence to an inflexible ideological system. This larger lay Buddhist community and the discourses it creates have the potential to challenge both popular and official understanding of self and personhood in globalizing post-Mao China, though this potential is limited by the difficulties faced by lay Buddhists in promoting their beliefs beyond the temple walls.


Fisher, Gareth. From Comrades to Bodhisattvas: Moral Dimensions of Lay Buddhist Practice in Contemporary China. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2014.

Abstract: From Comrades to Bodhisattvas is the first book-length study of Han Chinese Buddhism in post-Mao China. Using an ethnographic approach supported by over a decade of field research, it provides an intimate portrait of lay Buddhist practitioners in Beijing who have recently embraced a religion that they were once socialized to see as harmful superstition. The book focuses on the lively discourses and debates that take place among these new practitioners in an unused courtyard of a Beijing temple. In this non-monastic space, which shrinks each year as the temple authorities expand their commercial activities, laypersons gather to distribute and exchange Buddhist-themed media, listen to the fiery sermons of charismatic preachers, and seek solutions to personal moral crises. Applying recent theories in the anthropology of morality and ethics, Gareth Fisher argues that the practitioners are attracted to the courtyard as a place where they can find ethical resources to re-make both themselves and others in a rapidly changing nation that they believe lacks a coherent moral direction. Spurred on by the lessons of the preachers and the stories in the media they share, these courtyard practitioners inventively combine moral elements from China’s recent Maoist past with Buddhist teachings on the workings of karma and the importance of universal compassion. Their aim is to articulate a moral antidote to what they see as blind obsession with consumption and wealth accumulation among twenty-first century Chinese. Often socially marginalized and sidelined from meaningful roles in China’s new economy, these former communist comrades look to their new moral roles along a bodhisattva path to rebuild their self-worth. Each chapter focuses on a central trope in the courtyard practitioners’ projects to form new moral identities. The Chinese government’s restrictions on the spread of religious teachings in urban areas curtail these practitioners' ability to insert their moral visions into an emerging public sphere. Nevertheless, they succeed, at least partially, Fisher argues, in creating their own discursive space characterized by a morality of concern for fellow humans and animals and a recognition of the organizational abilities and pedagogical talents of its members that are unacknowledged in society at large. Moreover, as the later chapters of the book discuss, by writing, copying, and distributing Buddhist-themed materials, the practitioners participate in creating a religious network of fellow-Buddhists across the country, thereby forming a counter-cultural community within contemporary urban China. (Source: publisher's website)


Flower, John M., "A Road is Made: Roads, Temples, and Historical Memory in Ya'an County, Sichuan." Journal of Asian Studies 63(2004)3: 649-685.


Gallin, Bernard & Rita S. Gallin, "Folk Religion as a Mobilizing Identity: The Ta Shih Kung Temple in Taipei." In: Wang Ch'iu-kui, Chuang Ying-chang & Chen Chung-min [eds.], Shehui, minzu yu wenhua zhanyan guoji yantaohui lunwenji. Taipei: Hanxue Yanjiu Zhongxin, 2001. Pp.183-203.


Gao Bingzhong. “How Does Superstition Become Intangible Cultural Heritage in Postsocialist China?” positions: east asia cultures critique 22, no.3 (2014): 551-572.


Gates, Hill, "Religious Real Estate as Indigenous Civil Space." Bulletin of the Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica 88(1999): 313-333.


Gerritsen, Anne Tjerkje, "Gods and Governors: Interpreting the Religious Realms in Ji'an (Jiangxi) during the Southern Song, Yuan, and Ming Dynasties." Thesis (Ph.D.), Harvard University, 2001, 349p.

Abstract: This dissertation examines the religiosity of the common people in Ji'an Prefecture (Jiangxi Province) during the Southern Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties. I use the term "religiosity" to refer to the multiple ways in which the people of Ji'an interpreted and manipulated the realm of higher forces that affected their lives and deaths. This religiosity is of particular interest because the sources demonstrate that many "social actors" on the local scene attached great importance to this religiosity. Many regional and national groups of "actors" represented in local society were interested in asserting their authority over the religiosity of commoners by suggesting their own interpretations of the religious realm. This dissertation chronicles two processes of change; the gradual change in the religiosity of the common people, and the changing ways of manipulating this religiosity and their different rates of success.

Religiosity during the Southern Song dynasty is based on the availability and diversity of options. The importance of access to a range of options means that boundaries within which interpretations of the outer realm exist are constantly shifting, while the communities within which such interpretations exist are also fluid. The analysis of Yuan dynasty sources suggests a high degree of continuity between the Southern Song and Yuan. By the later Ming the diversity of options still exists, but the importance of an integrated community within which a tradition of practice is shared also begins to feature. I suggest that the emphasis on cohesion and small-scale integration in Ji'an does not appear in written sources until the middle of the Ming dynasty.

Throughout this period both representatives of the central government and local literati attempted to impose their own interpretations of the religious realm on local population. While government-based narratives of local religiosity change dramatically throughout this period, the effect of that change is much less noticeable on the local level. Analysis of literati narratives yield a more significant change. Throughout the Southern Song and Yuan dynasties literati use religion to give themselves a voice of authority in local society. This gradually diminishes during the Ming dynasty. [Source: Dissertation Abstracts International]


Gerritsen, Anne. Ji’an Literati and the Local in Song-Yuan-Ming China. Leiden: Brill, 2007.

Abstract: Drawing on largely local sources, including local gazetteers and literati inscriptions for religious sites, this book offers a comprehensive examination of what it means to be 'local' during the Southern Song, Yuan and Ming dynasties in Ji'an prefecture (Jiangxi). It argues that 'belonging locally' was important to Ji'an literati throughout this period. How they achieved that, however, changed significantly. Southern Song and Yuan literati wrote about religious sites from within their local communities, but their early Ming counterparts wrote about local temples from their posts at the capital, seeking to transform local sites from a distance. By the late Ming, temples had been superseded by other sites of local activism, including community compacts, lineage prefaces, and community covenants. [Source: publisher's website]


Glahn, Richard von, "The Sociology of Local Religion in the Lake Tai Basin." In: John Lagerwey [ed.], Religion and Chinese Society. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press / Paris: École française d'Extrême-Orient, 2004. Pp.773-815.


Goossaert, Vincent, "1898: The Beginning of the End for Chinese Religion?" Journal of Asian Studies 65(2006)2: 307-336.


Goossaert, Vincent; Nathalie Kouamé. "Un vandalisme d’État en Extrême-Orient ? Les destructions de lieux de culte dans l’histoire de la Chine et du Japon." Numen 53.2 (2006): 177-220.


Goossaert, Vincent & Fang Ling. "Les réformes funéraires et la politique religieuse de l’État chinois, 1900-2008." Archives de sciences sociales des religions 144 (2008): 51-73.


Goossaert, Vincent. "Irrepressible Female Piety: Late Imperial Bans on Women Visiting Temples." Nan Nü. Men, Women and Gender in China 10.2 (2008): 212-241 (Special issue on “Women, Gender and Religion in Premodern China”).


Goossaert, Vincent. "The Destruction of Immoral Temples in Qing China." ICS Visiting Professor Lectures Series, 2, Hong Kong, Chinese University Press, 2009 (Journal of Chinese Studies Special Issue), pp. 131- 153.


Goossaert, Vincent. „Bureaucratie, taxation et justice. Taoïsme et construction de l’État au Jiangnan (Chine), XVIIe-XIXe siècle.“ Annales: Histoire, Sciences Sociales 65.4 (2010): 999-1027.

Abstract: La dimension territoriale de l’organisation socioreligieuse de la Chine moderne est étroitement liée au taoïsme et à sa vision bureaucratique du monde. L’article met en évidence ce lien dans le cas de la région du Jiangnan à l’époque moderne. Cette région est caractérisée par des élites taoïstes particulièrement bien implantées. Ces élites contrôlent des temples centraux qui entretiennent avec les communautés territoriales des rapports de type bureaucratique : elles nomment les dieux locaux de ces communautés, perçoivent un impôt symbolique de leur part, et leur donnent accès à un système de justice divine. Ce faisant, elles fonctionnent comme une branche religieuse de la bureaucratie impériale, à laquelle elles sont par ailleurs intégrées. Cette triple bureaucratie, taoïste, divine, et impériale, a fonctionné jusqu’au début du XXe siècle.

"Bureaucracy, taxation and justice : Daoism and state building in Jiangnan (China), 17th-19th centuries." The territorial dimension of early modern China’s socio-religious organization is intimately linked with Daoism and its bureaucratic worldview. This article studies such a link through a case study of the Jiangnan area during the late imperial period. Jiangnan was characterized by particularly deeply rooted Daoist elites who controlled central temples. These elites and temples oversaw local territorial communities in a bureaucratic manner, as they nominated their local gods, collected a symbolic tax from their members, and administered a system of divine justice for them. They thus operated as a religious branch of the imperial bureaucracy, to which they firmly belonged. The triple Daoist/Divine/ Imperial bureaucracy functioned in such a way until the early twentieth century.


Goossaert, Vincent. “Une repression endemique? La destruction des «temples immoraux» en Chine sous les Qing (1644-1898).” In: Arnaud Brotons, Yannick Bruneton & Nathalie Kouamé [eds.], État, religion et répression en Asie: Chine, Corée, Japon, Vietnam (XIIIe-XXIe siècles). Paris: Éditions Karthala, 2011. Pp. 183-221.


Goossaert, Vincent. “Détruire les temples pour construire les écoles: reconstitution d’un objet historique.” Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident 33 (2011): 35-51.


Goossaert, Vincent. "The Local Politics of Festivals: Hangzhou, 1850-1950." Daoism: Religion, History & Society 5 (2013): 57-80.


Goossaert, Vincent. “Managing Chinese Religious Pluralism in Nineteenth-century City God Temples.” In Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China: Transnational Religions, Local Agents, and the Study of Religion, 1800-Present, edited by Thomas Jansen, Thoralf Klein, and Christian Meyer, 29-51. Leiden: Brill, 2014.


Haar, Barend J. ter, "China's Inner Demons: The Political Impact of the Demonological Paradigm." China Information 9(1996/97)2/3: 54-88.


Haar, Barend J. ter, "Local Society and the Organization of Cults in Early Modern China. A Preliminary Study." Studies in Central & East Asian Religions 8(1995):1-43.


Haar, Barend ter. "Rumours and Prophecies: The Religious Background of the Late Yuan Rebellions." Studies in Chinese Religions 4, no. 4 (2018): 382-418.

Abstract: The conventional view of the late Yuan rebellions of Xu Shouhui and Han Shantong is that they were both inspired by Maitreyist beliefs. Han Shantong claimed that a Luminous King would appear. The prominent Chinese historian Wu Han therefore argued that this rebellion was influenced by Manichaean beliefs. The rebellion is also traditionally seen as the moment that the lay Buddhist devotionalist White Lotus movement worshipping Guanyin and Amitāhba changed into the messianic and suppo- sedly rebellious White Lotus Teachings. I will demonstrate that the Xu Shouhui rebellion was not Maitreyist at all, but advocated the reestablishment of a Song dynasty. It included a large number of leaders with a background in the lay Buddhist White Lotus movement, but was never labelled a messianic White Lotus Teachings until modern historians applied this label. The Han Shantong rebellion on the other hand was definitively Maitreyist, but the belief in a Luminous King did not derive from Manichaean beliefs but from an old indigenous tradition, the Sutra of the Five Lords. I argue that even the choice of the name Ming for Zhu Yuanzhang's new dynasty and his choice of the capital of Nanjing were inspired by this particular religious text.


Han, Sam; Kamaludeen Mohamed Nasir. Digital Culture and Religion in Asia. London: Routledge, 2015. (See chapter 3 on "Religion as propaganda: The Falun Gong’s Info-War.")


Han, Seunghyun. “Shrine, Images, and Power: The Worship of Former Worthies in Early Nineteenth Century Suzhou.” T’oung Pao 95 (2009): 167-195.

Abstract: In the 1820s, the literati of Suzhou embarked on a project to build a shrine devoted to the worship of local former worthies and engraved almost six hundred portraits of the latter on the shrine's inner walls. Since the locality already had a paired shrine of eminent officials and local worthies, as had become the case across the empire since the mid-Ming period, why did they need to create a shrine of a similar nature? What was the cultural significance of introducing visual representations of the worthies in the worship? By analyzing the multiple layers of meaning surrounding this shrine-building activity, the present study attempts to illuminate an aspect of the changing state-elite relations in the early nineteenth century.


Heberer, Thomas, "Falungong: Religion, Sekte oder Kult? Eine Heilsgemeinschaft als Manifestation von Modernisierungsproblemen und sozialen Entfremdungsprozessen." China heute 20(2001)3-4: 101-110.


Heberer, Thomas. “Falungong: soziales, politisches und religiöses Phänomen zwischen Tradition und Modernisierungsfrust.” In: Wiebke Koenig & Karl-Fritz Daiber [eds.], Religion und Politik in der Volksrepublik China. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2008. Pp. 289-312.


Hetmanczyk, Philipp. "Party Ideology and the Changing Role of Religion: From ‚United Front’ to ‚Intangible Cultural Heritage.’" Asiatische Studien/Etudes Asiatiques 69, no.1 (2015): 165-184.


Holbig, Heike, "Falungong: Genese und alternative Deutungen eines politischen Konflikts." China aktuell 29 (Februar 2000): 135-147.


Holroyd, Ryan. “Schools, Temples, and Tombs across the Sea: The Re-Civilization of Post-Zheng Taiwan, 1683–1722.” Frontiers of History in China 10, no. 4 (2015): 571–593.

Abstract: This article examines the strategies employed by the Qing empire to induce the Han population in Taiwan to accept its rule following the island’s conquest in 1683. Late-seventeenth-century Taiwan had a sparse population and a huge hinterland, and this made it difficult for the Qing government to enforce its rule by military means alone. I will argue that the Qing officials in Taiwan also used a number of cultural tactics to legitimize their government in the eyes of the Han Taiwanese. First, they built culture temples and schools in the hopes of both demonstrating their moral authority and convincing the Taiwanese to participate in the dynasty’s examination system. Second, they involved themselves in local religion by founding or refurbishing temples to popular deities, demonstrating sympathy for local concerns and solidarity between religious groups on the mainland and in Taiwan. Finally, rather than denigrate the memory of the island’s former rulers, the Ming-loyalist Zheng family who had resisted the Qing government’s conquest of southern China, they portrayed them as honorable servants of the former dynasty whose legacy could be proudly remembered, but whose time had ultimately passed. (Source: journal)


Hu Baozhu. “Illicit Religious Activities under the Southern Song Dynasty: A Study on Chen Chun’s Shang Zhao sicheng lun yinsi.” In The Mazu Cult: Historical Studies and Cross-Cultural Comparisons, edited by Cai Jiehua & Marc Nürnberger, 69-88. Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau/Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, 2017.


Hu, Ping; Mosher, Stacy, tr. "The Falun Gong Phenomenon." In Challenging China: Struggle and Hope in an Era of Change, edited by Sharon Hom & Stacy Mosher. New York; London: New Press, 2007. Pp.226-251.

Huang, Weishan. "Globalization as a Tactic – Legal Campaigns of the Falun Gong Diaspora." In Concepts and Methods for the Study of Chinese Religions III: Key Concepts in Practice. Edited by Paul R. Katz and Stefania Travagnin, 233-255. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2019.

Hung Chang-tai. “The Anti-Unity Sect Campaign and Mass Mobilization in the Early People’s Republic of China.” The China Quarterly 202 (2010): 400-420.

Abstract: The anti-Unity Sect campaign (1949–53), a precursor to the Campaign to Suppress Counterrevolutionaries (the zhenfan movement), was one of the Chinese Communists' most violent policies to root out a perceived evil cult in China. This article argues that the drive was never simply a religious crusade. It was essentially a mass mobilization for the purpose of consolidating the Communists' power and legitimacy. Through a host of propaganda channels, including media attacks and public trials, the Communists dealt a crippling blow to the sect. The mobilization campaign turned many citizens into supporters and agents of the government, and its tactics would soon be mimicked in subsequent political movements.


Human Rights Watch/Asia, China: State Control of Religion. New York: Human Rights Watch, 1997.


Iiyama, Tomoyasu. „Maintaining Gods in Medieval China: Temple Worship and Local Governance in North China under the Jin and Yuan.“ Journal of Song-Yuan Studies 40 (2010): 71-102.


Introvigne, Massimo. “Xie Jiao as ‘Criminal Religious Movements’: A New Look at Cult Controversies in China and Around the World.” The Journal of CESNUR 2, no. 1 (2018): 13-32.

Abstract: Chinese Criminal Code punishes those active in a xie jiao with imprisonment from three to seven years. Xie jiao is translated in the English versions of Chinese official documents as “evil cults,” but the translation is inaccurate. As “heterodox teachings,” xie jiao have been banned in China since the Ming era, and the Communist regime inherited the practice of publishing lists of xie jiao from imperial and republican China. Historically, teachings were often declared “heterodox” for political rather than purely theological reasons, and today the definitions of xie jiao in Chinese documents and case law are vague at best. The paper argues that taking inspiration on Western categories such as “heresy” and “cult” would not help the Chinese in defining xie jiao in more precise terms, since these Western terms were als o historically fluid and easily used as tools for discriminating unpopular groups. In recent years, the Chinese authorities did invite to their anti - xie - jiao events, in addition or as an alternative to militant anti - cultists, Western scholars of new religious movements, including the author of this paper. I tried to introduce a new category, “criminal religious movements,” including groups that either (or both) consistently practice and justify common crimes such as terrorism, child abuse, rape, physical violence, homicide, and serious economic crimes, as opposite to the vague or imaginary crimes of “being a cult” or “brainwashing members.” The paper argues that there would be definite advantages in replacing categories such as xie jiao, “destructive cults,” and “extremist religions” (the latter now fashionable in Russia) with “criminal religious movements,” a notion that would refer to ascertained crimes perpetrated by each movement rather than to notions so vague that they become dangerous for religious liberty. (Source: journal)


Irons, Edward Allen. “The List: The Evolution of China’s List of Illegal and Evil Cults.” The Journal of CESNUR 2, no. 1 (2018): 33–57.

Abstract: In China, departments under the central government have published lists of banned and illegal religious groups since 1995. This practice can be seen as an extension of traditional ways of categorizing heterodox associations dating back to imperial times. Groups on the current list are often identified as xie jiao — normally translated as “ evil cults. ” The list is thus directly connected to questions of the categorization of religion in China. The study of the lists provides insight into the government ’ s evolving policy on religion, as well as the legal environment for religious activity.

Jiao, Yupeng. "The People's Living Guanyin Bodhisattva: Superstition, Entrepreneurship, Healthcare, Rural Economic Control, and Huidaomen in the Early PRC." The Chinese Historical Review 26, no. 2 (2020): 175–196.

Abstract: During the Republican era and the PRC, both regimes labeled religious practices outside official institutionalized religions as "superstition" (mixin). In the early PRC, the CCP labeled superstitious activities with mass participation as "mass superstitious incidents." This article examines a mass superstitious incident in Chongqing in 1953 in which more than fifty thousand people participated. In this case, local residents, especially local merchants, advertised an old woman as a Living Guanyin Bodhisattva with supernatural disease-curing powers to expand their economic interests. The incident was also a result of poor healthcare infrastructure management. Key organizers in the incident were severely punished, in part because they were scapegoats for the problems of the new national policy of State Monopoly for Grain Purchase. The incident also had a strong contagion effect that led to various similar "superstitious incidents" in the vicinity that were eventually suppressed under the name "huidaomen."


Jing, Jun, The Temple of Memories: History, Power, and Morality in a Chinese Village. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 1996.


Jing, Jun, "Villages Dammed, Villages Repossessed: A Memorial Movement in Northwest China." American Ethnologist 26(1999)2: 324-343.


Jing, Jun, "Environmental Protests in Rural China." In: Elizabeth J. Perry & Mark Selden [eds.], Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance. London: Routledge, 2000. Pp.143-160.


Jing, Jun, "Male Ancestors and Female Deities: Finding Memories of Trauma in a Chinese Village." In: Michael S. Roth & Charles G. Salas [eds.], Disturbing Remains: Memory, History, and Crisis in the Twentieth Century. Los Angeles: Getty Research Institute, 2001. Pp.207-226.


Johnson, David. Spectacle and Sacrifice: The Ritual Foundations of Village Life in North China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, 2010.

Abstract: This book is about the ritual world of a group of rural settlements in Shanxi province in pre-1949 North China. Temple festivals, with their giant processions, elaborate rituals, and operas, were the most important influence on the symbolic universe of ordinary villagers and demonstrate their remarkable capacity for religious and artistic creation. The great festivals described in this book were their supreme collective achievements and were carried out virtually without assistance from local officials or educated elites, clerical or lay. Chinese culture was a performance culture, and ritual was the highest form of performance. Village ritual life everywhere in pre-revolutionary China was complex, conservative, and extraordinarily diverse. Festivals and their associated rituals and operas provided the emotional and intellectual materials out of which ordinary people constructed their ideas about the world of men and the realm of the gods. It is, David Johnson argues, impossible to form an adequate idea of traditional Chinese society without a thorough understanding of village ritual. Newly discovered liturgical manuscripts allow him to reconstruct North Chinese temple festivals in unprecedented detail and prove that they are sharply different from the Daoist- and Buddhist-based communal rituals of South China. [Source: publisher's website]


Johnson, Ian, Wild Grass: Three Stories of Change in Modern China. New York: Pantheon Books, 2004. (Note: See chapter 3, "Turning the Wheel", on the persecution of the Falun Gong.)


Johnson, Ian. "Chasing the Yellow Demon." Journal of Asian Studies 76, no. 1 (2017): 5-24.

Abstract: Author's note: A few years ago, I read David Johnson's Spectacle and Sacrifice: The Ritual Foundations of Village Life in North China. The book immediately caught my attention because it dealt with parts of China that I know well: southern Hebei and eastern Shanxi provinces, where I was conducting research for a new book. Johnson describes festivals that helped bind together communities, and in several cases had information showing that some of them had been revived after the Cultural Revolution. One, particularly, seemed noteworthy: Guyi Village in the south of Hebei Province. This is near the steel-making city of Handan and one of the most polluted parts of China. I had been there several times and was fascinated with the idea that this area could also be home to elaborate, multi-day rituals that seemed otherwise not to exist in North China. According to Johnson's informants, local scholars had visited the village in the 1990s and seen exciting performances of Zhuo Huanggui, or Chasing the Yellow Demon, an exorcistic purging ritual performed at the end of the fifteen-day Chinese New Year's festival. I contacted local officials and academics, who were unsure if the ritual would be performed again. No one, it seemed, had been out to the village in years. So in mid-February 2014, I set off to see if anything was left of these complex performances. (Source: journal)


Kang, Xiaofei. “Women’s Liberation and Anti-Superstition in Wartime Communist Propaganda, 1943-1950.” NAN NÜ 19, no. 1 (2017): 64–96.

Abstract: This article seeks to bridge the hitherto disconnected studies of the “woman question” and “religious question” in the twentieth-century Chinese revolution. It focuses on the issues of women’s liberation and anti-superstition in Communist propaganda through Xiao Erhei jiehun (Young Blackie gets married), a popular novel by the Communist writer Zhao Shuli (1906-70) published in 1943, and examines its impact in comparative context in wartime Communist base areas. Drawing on the religious culture of the author’s native southern Shanxi, this revolutionary classic promoted freedom of marriage through attacking “feudal superstition.” The article compares wartime religious and revolutionary culture in Zhao’s rural Shanxi with the CCP’s cultural and political agendas in its headquarters of Yan’an. Despite its immense success, the novel’s original messages of women’s liberation and anti-superstition gradually became marginal in the early PRC years – both discourses gave way to the party-state’s higher ideological goal of class struggle, and were subsumed into the metanarrative celebrating the absolute leadership of the Communist Party and Mao Zedong. (Source: journal)


Kang, Xiaoguang. "The Political Effects of the Falun Gong Issue." Chinese Education and Society 35(2002)1: 5-14.


Katz, Paul R., "Temple Cults and the Creation of Hsin-chuang Local Society." In: T'ang Hsi-yung [ed.], Papers from the Seventh Conference on Chinese Maritime History. Nankang: Sun Yat-sen Institute of Social Sciences, 1999. Pp.735-798.


Katz, Paul R., "Religion and the State in Post-war Taiwan." The China Quarterly 174(2003): 395-412.


Katz, Paul R., "Local Elites and Sacred Sites in Hsin-chuang: The Growth of the Ti-tsang An during the Japanese Occupation." In: Lin Mei-rong [ed.], Xinyang, yishi yu shehui: Di san jie guoji Hanxue huiyi lunwenji (renleixue zu) = Belief, Ritual and Society: Papers from the Third International Conference on Sinology (Anthropology Section). Taipei: Institute of Ethnology, Academia Sinica, 2003. Pp.179-227.


Katz, Paul R. "Governmentality and Its Consequences in Colonial Taiwan: A Case Study of the Ta-pa-ni Incident of 1915." Journal of Asian Studies 64(2005)2: 387-424.


Katz, Paul R. When Valleys Turned Blood Red: The Ta-pa-ni Incident in Colonial Taiwan. Honolulu: University of Hawai'i Press, 2005.

Abstract: When Valleys Turned Blood Red tells the story of colonial policies and their tragic impact on local communities. The Ta-pa-ni Incident of 1915 was the largest single act of Han Chinese armed resistance during the fifty years of Taiwan's colonial era. More than a thousand villagers and Japanese were killed during the fierce fighting and thousands more were later arrested and made to stand trial.

Based on detailed archival research, interviews with survivors, painstaking demographic analysis, and a thorough reading of secondary scholarship in all of the relevant languages, Paul Katz examines the significance of the Ta-pa-ni Incident by focusing on what Paul Cohen terms history's "three keys": event, experience, and myth. Katz provides a vivid description of events surrounding the uprising as well as the ways in which it has been mythologized over time. His primary emphasis, however, is on the experiences of the men and women who were caught up in the flow of history. [Source: publisher's website]


Katz, Paul R. „Spirit-writing Halls and the Development of Local Communities: A Case Study of Puli (Nantou County).“ Min-su ch’ü-i / Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore 174 (2011): 103-184.


Keith, Ronald C. & Zhiqiu Lin, "The 'Falun Gong Problem': Politics and the Struggle for the Rule of Law in China." The China Quarterly 175 (2003): 623-642.

Abstract: This article examines the CCP's "falun gong problem" with reference to PRC law and policy on "heretical cults," paying particular attention to the implications of this problem for the ongoing struggle to establish human rights under the rule of law. Official PRC commentary contends that the falun gong not only committed criminal acts but also wilfully sought to undermine the rule of law itself. Human rights critics and agencies, such as the US Commission on International Religious Freedom, have, on the other hand, attacked the PRC for a "repressive legal framework" that threatens human rights. The "falun gong problem" is an important chapter in the struggle for the rule of law in China, and it appears that the law has not been able to transcend the conceptual bias of past criminal law on counter-revolution. The related politicization of the law through a revived principle of "flexibility" challenges the internal process of criminal justice reform and the recent reform focus on the balance of human rights protection and public order. [Source: Cambridge University Press website]


Kim, Han-shin. "The Transformation in State Responses to Chinese Popular Religious Cults." Sungkyun Journal of East Asian Studies 14, no.1 (Apr 2014): 1-20.


Kipnis, Andrew B., "The Flourishing of Religion in Post-Mao China and the Anthropological Category of Religion." Australian Journal of Anthropology 12(2001)1: 32-46.

Abstract: In his provocative critique of Clifford Geertz's 1966 definition of religion, Talal Asad (1993) suggests that the very project of defining the category of religion is rooted in the historical rise of Western secularism in societies formerly dominated by Christianity. In post-Mao China, there has been an explosion of activities that might be categorized as religious in the Geertzian sense, including church attendance, temple building, qi gong practice, pilgrimage, & geomancy. This paper examines two such activities, the participation of women in a Protestant church in rural Shandong & the recent protest by members of the Fa Lun Gong (Buddhist Law Qi Gong) society in Beijing, & asks what their emergence in a post-Maoist communist state tells us about the historical processes that frame the possibility of defining religion. Working with theories of religious participation from Geertz, Asad, Tambiah, & Feuchtwang, the paper develops a conception of "symbolic participation" to illuminate the flourishing of religious practice in post-Mao China. 48 References. Adapted from the source document. [Source: SOCIOFILE]


Koh, Keng We. "The Deity Proposes, the State Disposes: The Vicissitudes of a Chinese Temple in Post-1965 Singapore." In Singapore: Negotiating State and Society, 1965-2015, edited by Jason Lim & Terence Lee, 126-142. London; New York: Routledge, 2016.


Ku, Hok Bun, Moral Politics in a South Chinese Village: Responsibility, Reciprocity, and Resistance. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 2003. (Note: Deals with a Hakka village near Meizhou, Guangdong province. See chapter 8 on the revival of local temple cults and the rebuilding of an ancestral hall.)


Kühner, Hans. "Weltanschauliche Toleranz oder staatliche Verfolgung von Heterodoxien? Ein Fall aus dem späten chinesischen Kaiserreich." In: Konrad Meisig [ed.], Chinesische Religion und Philosophie: Konfuzianismus - Mohismus - Daoismus - Buddhismus. Grundlagen und Einblicke. Wiesbaden: Harrassowitz Verlag, 2005. Pp. 155-174. [Note: Deals with the persecution of the Taigu school/sect in 1866.]


Kühner, Hans. “Sorcerers, Bandits and Rebels: Anti-Heretical Discourse and Practice in Late Qing China.” Bochumer Jahrbuch für Ostasienforschung 33 (2009): 17-38.


Kuo, Cheng-tian. Religion and Democracy in Taiwan. Albany, NY: State University of New York Press, 2008.

Abstract: In Religion and Democracy in Taiwan, Cheng-tian Kuo meticulously explores various Taiwanese religions in order to observe their relationships with democracy. Kuo analyzes these relationships by examining the democratic theology and ecclesiology of these religions, as well as their interaction with Taiwan. Unlike most of the current literature, which is characterized by a lack of comparative studies, the book compares nearly all of the major religions and religious groups in Taiwan. Both case studies and statistical methods are utilized to provide new insights and to correct misperceptions in the current literature. The book concludes by highlighting the importance of breaking down the concepts of both religion and democracy in order to accurately address their complicated relationships and to provide pragmatic democratic reform proposals within religions. [Source: publisher's website]


Kupfer, Kristin, "'Geheimgesellschaften' in der VR China: Christlich inspirierte, spirituell-religiöse Gruppierungen seit 1978." China Analysis, Working Paper No.8, 2001. (Published by the Center for East Asian and Pacific Studies, Trier University, Germany). Can be viewed online at http://www.asienpolitik.de/working_papers.html (pdf file).


Kupfer, Kristin, "Christlich inspirierte, spirituell-religiöse Gruppierungen in der VR China seit 1978 (I)." China heute 21(2002)4-5: 119-127.


Kupfer, Kristin, "Christlich inspirierte, spirituell-religiöse Gruppierungen in der VR China seit 1978 (II)." China heute 21(2002)6: 169-175.


Kupfer, Kristin, "Christlich inspirierte, spirituell-religiöse Gruppierungen in der VR China seit 1978 (III)." China heute 22(2003)1-2: 27-32.


Kupfer, Kristin, "Christlich inspirierte, spirituell-religiöse Gruppierungen in der VR China seit 1978 (IV)." China heute 22(2003)3: 81-83.


Kupfer, Kristin. "'Häretische Lehren bekämpfen' - Der Umgang der chinesischen Regierung mit spirituell-religiösen Gruppierungen seit 1978." In: Wiebke Koenig & Karl-Fritz Daiber [eds.], Religion und Politik in der Volksrepublik China. Würzburg: Ergon Verlag, 2008. Pp. 251-288.


Kutcher, Norman, Mourning in Late Imperial China: Filial Piety and the State. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.


Lagerwey, John, "À propos de la situation actuelle des pratiques religieuses traditionnelles en Chine." In: Catherine Clémentin-Ojha [ed.], Renouveaux religieux en Asie. Paris: École française d'Extrême-Orient, 1997. Pp.3-16.


Lagerwey, John, "A Year in the Life of a Mingqi Saint." Minsu quyi no.117 (1999): 329-370.


Lagerwey, John, "Du caractère rationnel de la religion locale en Chine." Bulletin de l'École française d'Extrême-Orient 87(2000)1: 301-315.

Abstract: La thèse soutenue dans cet article est que le comportement religieux chinois, tel qu'on l'observe à l'échelon local, suppose un système symbolique commun qui est « approprié à la situation socioéconomique ». Basé sur un travail de terrain dans les parties habitées par les Hakka du Nord-Est de la province de Guangdong, il examine une vallée « idéal-typique » coupée par une rivière qui divise un village monolignager d'un village plurilignager. Il y a une « logique profonde de l'occupation lignagère de l'espace », qui est fondamentalement monopolistique et conduit, si le lignage arrive à ses fins, d'un ancêtre fondateur unique à un lignage dominant qui a chassé tous les rivaux de l'écosystème que constitue la vallée. C'est dans ce contexte que le souci intense, lors de la construction d'une maison ou d'une tombe, de la captation symbolique du pouvoir spirituel du paysage au moyen de la géomancie prend tout son sens. Si les ancêtres représentent le lignage comme entité « publique », sociale, ce sont les dieux qui représentent la vallée comme un tout, c'est-à-dire comme un écosystème social partagé. Les dieux les plus importants sont les dieux villageois du sol, qui protègent le village des envahisseurs surnaturels. Il arrive souvent que des villages, représentés par leurs dieux du sol, appartiennent à des alliances plus larges formées autour de divinités hébergées dans des temples. Les processions à travers le territoire du dieu font partie intégrante des célébrations communautaires. Les démons, enfin, sont des puissances spirituelles qui, contrairement aux dieux, ne sont pas attachées à un lieu précis et doivent être régulièrement « invitées », nourries, et chassées en des lieux rituels en aval du village. Cet espace religieux surpeuplé reflétait un espace socioéconomique surpeuplé, situation qui engendrait « une approche stratégique et opportuniste de la survie »."

The basic thesis of this essay is that Chinese religious behaviour as observed on the local level involves a symbolic system common to all that is "appropriate to the socio-economic context." Based on fieldwork in the Hakka parts of north-eastern Guangdong, the article examines an "ideal-type" valley bisected by a river which divides a uni-lineage from a multi-lineage "village". There is an "inner logic of the lineage occupation of space", a logic which is essentially monopolistic and leads, if the lineage is successful, from a single founding ancestor to a fully articulated major lineage which has driven all rivals from the valley ecosystem. It is in this context that the intense concern, when building a house or a tomb, with symbolic capture of the spiritual power of the landscape by means of geomancy makes sense. If the ancestors represent the lineage as a "public", social entity, it is the gods who represent the valley as a whole, that is, as a shared social ecosystem. The most important are the village earth gods, who protect the village against supernatural invaders. Not infrequently, villages represented by their earth gods will belong to larger alliances built up around gods housed in temples. Processions throughout the god's territory are a standard part of communal celebrations. Demons, finally, are spiritual forces who, unlike gods, are not tied to a fixed place and must be regularly "invited", fed, and driven away at ritual sites downstream from the village. This overcrowed religious space reflected an overcrowded socio-economic space, a situation that engendered "a strategic, opportunistic approach to survival".


Lagerwey, John, "Of Gods and Ancestors: the Ten-Village Rotation of Pingyuan Shan." Minsu quyi, no.137 (2002): 61-139. (Note: Pingyuan Shan is located in Changting County, Fujian)


Laidlaw, James, "On Theatre and Theory: Reflections on Ritual in Imperial Chinese Politics." In: Joseph P. McDermott [ed.], State and Court Ritual in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Pp.399-416.


Laliberté, André. "The Politicization of Religion by the CCP: A Selective Retrieval." Asiatische Studien/Etudes Asiatiques 69, no.1 (2015): 185-211.


Landsberger, Stefan R., "Mao as the Kitchen God. Religious Aspects of the Mao Cult During the Cultural Revolution." China Information 11(1996)2/3:196-214.


Langone, Michael D., "Reflections on Falun Gong and the Chinese Government." Cultic Studies Review (Online) 2(2003)2. http://www.culticstudiesreview.org/


Leung, Angela Ki Che. “Charity, Medicine, and Religion: The Quest for Modernity in Canton.” In Modern Chinese Religion II, 1850-2015, edited by Vincent Goossaert, Jan Kiely, and John Lagerwey, 579-612. Leiden: E.J. Brill, 2016. (Handbook of Oriental Studies, section 4: China, vol.32)


Leung, Beatrice, "China und falungong: Das Verhältnis zwischen Staat und Gesellschaft in der Moderne." (Translated by Katharina Wenzel-Teuber) China heute 20(2001)5-6: 146-153.


Leung, Beatrice. "China and Falun Gong: Party and Society Relations in the Modern Era." Journal of Contemporary China 11(2002), no.33: 761-784.


Li, Lan. „The Changing Role of the Popular Religion of Nuo in Modern Chinese Politics.“ Modern Asian Studies 45.5 (2011): 1289-1311.

Abstract: Since the early 1980s, China's rapid economic growth and profound social transformation have greatly changed the role of popular religion in modern Chinese politics. In the case of nuo, these changes have been directly responsible for the incorporation of this popular religion into the implementation of Party-state's policy on ethnic minority and the provision of evidence to support the legitimacy of the Chinese Communist Party's regime. Through manipulation and reinterpretation by local governments, the popular religion of nuo has not only become the target of local socio-economic development, a common phenomenon in contemporary China, but has also played a key role in ethnic identification, which is an important step for a post-Mao's CCP to maintain political stability in ethnic minority areas. In addition, nuo has through the research of Marxism-influenced schools fundamentally altered its position from an officially unrecognized religion opposed to both socialist political order and atheist ideology to a politically favoured ‘living fossil’ of primitive culture. This proves the Marxist evolutionary theory in which socialism and communism are thought to be inescapable consequences of social development. The positive role played by nuo in modern Chinese politics has brought the popular religion much open support and endorsement from party-state officials at all levels, including top-ranking officials within the Central Committee of the CCP. Like any popular religion, nuo has over the centuries undergone significant changes, but never before has it experienced such dramatic changes in its relationship with an anti-religious and pragmatic central government, something which has significantly altered the course of its development. (Source: journal)


Li Lan. Popular Religion in Modern China: The New Role of Nuo. Farnham, Surrey: Ashgate Publishing Company, 2015.

Abstract: Since the early 1980s, China's rapid economic growth and social transformation have greatly altered the role of popular religion in the country. This book makes a new contribution to the research on the phenomenon by examining the role which popular religion has played in modern Chinese politics. Popular Religion in Modern China uses Nuo as an example of how a popular religion has been directly incorporated into the Chinese Community Party's (CCP) policies and how the religion functions as a tool to maintain socio-political stability, safeguard national unification and raise the country's cultural 'soft power' in the eyes of the world. It provides rich new material on the interplay between contemporary Chinese politics, popular religion and economic development in a rapidly changing society. (Source: publisher's website)


Li, Yuhang. "Oneself as a Female Deity: Representations of Empress Dowager Cixi as Guanyin." Nan Nü. Men, Women and Gender in China 14.1 (2012): 75-118.

Abstract: This paper discusses the practice of Empress Dowager Cixi’s embodiment of Guanyin, the most influential female deity in China. Empress Dowager Cixi (1835-1908), the ruling monarch of Qing China, embodied this deity via different media such as painting, fashion, and photographs. This study demonstrates both the religious and historical consequences of Cixi’s particular vision of herself as Guanyin. It explains how Cixi combined theatricality with religiosity in different media and how she fashioned herself in both roles simultaneously as Guanyin and ruling empress Cixi. (Source: publisher's website)


Liang, Yongjia. "Morality, Gift and Market: Communal Temple Restoration in Southwest China." Asia Pacific Journal of Anthropology 15, no.5 (Nov 2014): 414-432 .


Lim, Francis Khek Gee. “The Eternal Mother and the State: Circumventing Religious Management in Singapore.” Asian Studies Review 36.1 (2012): 19-37.

Abstract: Most modern states have policies for the management of religion. For those with diverse religious communities, how to ensure the peaceful coexistence of the various religions becomes an important challenge for governments. Hence, modern secular states often delineate a proper “domain” for religion in society in order to properly regulate it. In response, religious groups, many transnational in nature, can adopt various strategies to respond to state regulation, ranging from resistance, to accommodation, to acceptance. This paper examines how, in its negotiations with state-imposed restrictions, the Yiguan Dao – a transnational Chinese syncretic sect that has experienced phenomenal growth in Asia and beyond – has chosen not to identify itself publicly as a “religion”, but rather adopts a more “secular” identity in its official dealings with the public and the state by emphasising its “cultural” and “scientific” aspects. Further, the sect utilises the practice of religious territoriality to transform officially secular residential properties into the sacred sites of temples in order to circumvent state restrictions on religious buildings. This paper demonstrates how a religious movement can undergo organisational change and adopt innovative territorial practices, and manage to flourish in the face of state regulations as well as the negative views of other, more “orthodox”, religions. (Source: journal)


Lin, Fu-shih. “Shamans and Politics.” In: John Lagerwey and Lü Pengzhi [eds.], Early Chinese Religion: Part Two: The Period of Division (220-589 AD). Leiden: Brill, 2010. Pp.275-318.


Liu, Kwang-Ching and Richard Shek [eds.], Heterodoxy in Late Imperial China. Honolulu : University of Hawai'i Press, 2004.

Abstract: In a series of well-documented case studies ranging over the centuries, contributors examine aspects of early Daoism and Buddhism as essential background to the sectarian movements of the Ming (1368-1644) and the Qing (1644-1911) periods. They take up White Lotus ("Eternal Mother") millenarianism prior to and during the eighteenth century and the Triads of the nineteenth, who were, it seems, only politically heterodox. Finally the most radical and populist traditions are explored: the quasi-Christian Taipings of the nineteenth century and the elite Republican movement of the early twentieth. Heterodoxy in Late Imperial China attempts to define the efforts of groups and individuals to propose alternatives to the formidable socioethical orthodoxy of China's heritage. By approaching modern China from its long-standing tradition of dissent, it provides essential reading for those seeking the enduring themes of China's nonofficial history and especially the transition between the late imperial and modern eras. [Source: publisher's website.]


Lo, Roger Shih-Chieh. “Local Politics and the Canonization of a God: Lord Yang (Yang fujun) in Late Qing Wenzhou (840-67).” Late Imperial China 33.1 (2012): 89-121.

Abstract: In early February 1855, a group of “local bandits” led by Qu Zhenhan occupied Yueqing city of Wenzhou prefecture for a week. According to Qing officials’ report, this incident was suppressed by the divine manifestation of Lord Yang, a popular local deity in Wenzhou. Instead of focusing on how Qing authority regained control over local society, this article takes advantage of the local materials available in Wenzhou to explore the following two questions: How does a local deity function politically in local society? What is the role of popular religion in local politics and even national politics in late Qing China? This local history study sheds light on the significance of popular religion in Chinese political culture. (Source: journal)


Lowe, Scott, "China and New Religious Movements." Nova Religio 4(2001)2: 213-224.


Lowe, Scott, "Chinese and International Contexts for the Rise of Falun Gong." Nova religio 6(2003)2: 263-276.


Lowe, Scott. "Religion on a Leash: NRMs and the Limits of Chinese Freedom." In: Phillip Charles Lucas & Thomas Robbins [eds.], New Religious Movements in the 21st Century: Legal, Political, and Social Challenges in Global Perspective. New York, London: Routledge, 2004. Pp. 179-190.


Lu, Yunfeng & Lang, Graeme. “Impact of the State on the Evolution of a Sect.” Sociology of Religion 67.3 (2006): 249-270.

Abstract: Theories about the sect-to-church transition focus on changes in the social characteristics of members, or changes in the size and prosperity of the organization, to account for the transition. However, the state may also affect the likelihood of a sect-to-church transition. Under conditions of state repression, sects are likely to be more schismatic. State repression can also strengthen sectarianism by preventing the orderly succession of leaders and the emergence of professionalized and educated priesthood. We illustrate with the case of Yiguan Dao in China. This sect exhibited sectarian features under state repression, until the late 1980s when the sect was legalized in Taiwan. Thereafter, the various branches of the sect have introduced a series of changes designed to reduce schisms, formalize the succession of leadership, professionalize sectarian leaders and elaborate doctrines. These developments cannot be comprehended theoretically without some revisions to theories of sect-to-church changes. [Source: journal]


Lu Yunfeng. The Transformation of Yiguan Dao in Taiwan: Adapting to a Changing Religious Economy. Lanham: Lexington Books, 2008.

Abstract: Yiguan Dao, the most influential sect in the Chinese mainland in the 1940s, was largely destroyed in mainland China by 1953. However, Yiguan Dao survived and developed into the largest sect in Taiwan, despite its suppression by the Kuomintang state. In 1987, through relentless efforts, the sect finally gained legal status in Taiwan. Today, Yiguan Dao not only thrives in Chinese societies, but has also become a worldwide religion that has spread to more than sixty countries.

The Transformation of Yiguan Dao in Taiwan is the first English-language scholarly study exclusively focusing on Yiguan Dao. Utilizing fieldwork conducted in 2002 in Taiwan, Yunfeng Lu provides a history of Yiguan Dao in mainland China and focuses on the sect's evolution in Taiwan in the past few decades. Lu probes the operation of Yiguan Dao under suppression over the past twenty years, and examines the relationship between Yiguan Dao and its rivals in Taiwan's religious market. The Transformation of Yiguan Dao in Taiwan also develops the religious economy model by extending it to Chinese societies. It is essential reading for anyone interested in religion and contemporary Chinese society. [Source: publisher's website]


Lu Yunfeng, Lu Yuxin, Zhou Na. “Doctrinal Innovation, Resistance, and Falun Gong’s Politicization.” The China Review 18, no. 4 (2018): 41-62.


Lum, Thomas, "China and 'Falun Gong': Implications and Options for U.S. Policy." Current Politics and Economics of China 2(2000)4: 177-182.


Luo Weiwei. “Locality and Temple Fundraising in Northern Qing China.” In Religion in Taiwan and China : Locality and Transmission, edited by Hsun Chang & Benjamin Penny, 37-58. Taipei: Academia Sinica, Institute of Ethnology, 2017.


MacInnis, Donald, "From Suppression to Repression: Religion in China Today." Current History 95(1996): 284-289.


Madsen, Richard, "Understanding Falun Gong." Current History 99(2000): 243-247.


Madsen, Richard. Democracy’s Dharma: Religious Renaissance and Political Development in Taiwan. Berkeley: University of California, Press, 2007.

Abstract: This book explores the remarkable religious renaissance that has reformed, revitalized, and renewed the practices of Buddhism and Daoism in Taiwan. Democracy's Dharma connects these noteworthy developments to Taiwan's transition to democracy and the burgeoning needs of its new middle classes. Richard Madsen offers fresh thinking on Asian religions and shows that the public religious revival was not only encouraged by the early phases of the democratic transition but has helped to make that transition successful and sustainable. Madsen makes his argument through vivid case studies of four groups--Tzu Chi (the Buddhist Compassion Relief Association), Buddha's Light Mountain, Dharma Drum Mountain, and the Enacting Heaven Temple--and his analysis demonstrates that the Taiwan religious renaissance embraces a democratic modernity. [Source: publisher's website.]


Malek, Roman, "Herausgeforderte Orthodoxie: Der chinesische Staat und die neue Religiosität." Religion - Staat - Gesellschaft 2(2001)2: 243-269.


Malek, Roman, "'Zitadellen der Hoffnung' - Entwicklungstendenzen der Religiosität in der Volksrepublik China." Forum Weltkirche 2003, No.1: 14-19.


McDermott, Joseph P., "Emperor, Élites, and Commoners: the Community Pact Ritual of the Late Ming." In: Joseph P. McDermott [ed.], State and Court Ritual in China. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999. Pp.299-351.


Meyer, Christian. "Religionspolitik und die Transformation des religiösen Feldes in der Volksrepublik China am Beispiel Falun Gong - Gibt es eine neue ‚Religionspolitik chinesischen Typs’?" In Religion und Politik im gegenwärtigen Asien Konvergenzen und Divergenzen, edited by Edith Franke und Katja Triplett, 141-165. Berlin: Lit-Verlag, 2013.


Micollier, Evelyne, "Qigong Groups and Civil Society in PR China." IIAS Newsletter 22(2000): 32.


Moses, Paul. "The First Amendment and the Falun Gong." In: Claire H. Badaracco [ed.], Quoting God: How Media Shape Ideas about Religion and Culture. Waco, Texas: Baylor University Press, 2005. Pp. 67-77.


Munekage, Natsuko, "China's New Religious Movement: Falun Gong's Cultural Resistance and Political Confrontation." Thesis (M.A.), University of Oregon, 2001, 141p.

Abstract: Falun Gong, a Chinese new religious movement has experienced political confrontation with the state since 1999. An analysis of Falun Gong theology and the movement's interactions with Chinese society, the state, and a global audience projects the epitome of the transforming cultural matrix of the PRC. This thesis concerns itself seriously with Falun Gong practitioners' spiritual world, together with their interactions in society, to reveal their voices and perceptions regarding to post-Maoist social values, which was neither discussed nor paid scholarly or mass media attention. In an attempt to map the movement's autonomous sphere in relation to state hegemony, this thesis shall highlight the existence of latent conflicts between Falun Gong and the Chinese state since the emergence of Falun Gong as an apolitical movement, and argue how the group's unspoken resistance developed into explicit political confrontation. [Source: Dissertation Abstracts International]


Naquin, Susan, Peking: Temples and City Life, 1400-1900. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2000.


Nedostup, Rebecca Allyn, "Religion, Superstition and Governing Society in Nationalist China." Thesis (Ph.D.), Columbia University, 2001, 668p.

Abstract: In its self-appointed role as the savior of Chinese culture, the Nationalist regime at Nanjing (1927-1937) sought to define habits suitable for a modern citizen, and to eliminate customs that might hinder the formation of a cohesive nation. In religion, reformers saw laudable systems of ethics degraded by wasteful and unseemly popular practices, and institutions whose influence threatened to impede government control. Thus party and government officials sought to translate a nebulous distinction between acceptable beliefs and harmful superstition into executable ways to regulate religious groups and control practitioners. Meanwhile, by confiscating temple property and attempting to substitute civic rituals for old-style customs, the regime sought to reorder the pattern of power in local society, sometimes to great resistance. This project aims to trace the story of Nationalist policy towards Chinese popular religion and then place it in the context of local history, employing case studies from the capital and Jiangsu province. The result is not simply a case of an "urban intellectual" government seeking to repress a clear-cut set of "traditional" cultural practices. The difficulties faced by KMT officials and party cadres in dealing with superstition reveal the inherent contradictions in the regime's greater project to remake Chinese culture, society and nation. [Source: Dissertation Abstracts International]


Nedostup, Rebecca. “Ritual Competition and the Modernizing Nation-State.” In: Mayfair Mei-hui Yang [ed.], Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Pp. 87-112.


Nedostup, Rebecca. Superstitious Regimes: Religion and the Politics of Chinese Modernity. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2009.

Abstract: We live in a world shaped by secularism—the separation of numinous power from political authority and religion from the political, social, and economic realms of public life. Not only has progress toward modernity often been equated with secularization, but when religion is admitted into modernity, it has been distinguished from superstition. That such ideas are continually contested does not undercut their extraordinary influence. These divisions underpin this investigation of the role of religion in the construction of modernity and political power during the Nanjing Decade (1927–1937) of Nationalist rule in China. This book explores the modern recategorization of religious practices and people and examines how state power affected the religious lives and physical order of local communities. It also looks at how politicians conceived of their own ritual role in an era when authority was meant to derive from popular sovereignty. The claims of secular nationalism and mobilizational politics prompted the Nationalists to conceive of the world of religious association as a dangerous realm of “superstition” that would destroy the nation. This is the first “superstitious regime” of the book’s title. It also convinced them that national feeling and faith in the party-state would replace those ties—the second “superstitious regime.” [Source: publisher's website]


Ng, Emily. "Spectral Revolution: Notes on a Maoist Cosmology." Made in China 5, no. 2 (2020): 104–111.

Abstract: This essay describes the cosmological role of Mao in ritual and spirit mediumship in rural China. It considers the occulted forces hosted by the Chairman's image and words, across movements of display, concealment, and circulation. Here, the Party-state has a cosmic double, and Maoist anti-religious policies are not what they seem.


Noakes, Stephen & Caylan Ford. "Managing Political Opposition Groups in China: Explaining the Continuing Anti-Falun Gong Campaign." The China Quarterly, no. 223 (September 2015): 658-679.

Abstract: In this article, we seek to explain the persistence of the Communist Party's campaign to suppress the Falun Gong religious movement. We argue that the unrecoverable investment of more than a decade's worth of suppression work, compounded by the ineffectiveness of these efforts (as evinced in official documents and by the continuation of resistance activities), limits the state's ability to halt its campaign against Falun Gong. Our findings shed light on some of the Chinese state's current strategies for the management and control of domestic opposition groups, and challenge the view of the Party as adaptable and highly capable of reform from within. (Source: journal)


Nyitray, Vivian-Lee, "The Sea Goddess and the Goddess of Democracy." Annual Review of Women in World Religions 4(1996):164-177.


Olds, Kelly B. & Ruey-Hua Liu, "Economic Cooperation in 19th-Century Taiwan: Religion and Informal Enforcement." Journal of Institutional and Theoretical Economics 156(2000)2: 404-427.


Ostergaard, Clemens Stubbe. "Governance and the Political Challenge of the Falun Gong." In: Jude Howell [ed.], Governance in China. London, Boulder, Colo.: Rowman & Littlefield, 2004. Pp. 207-225


Otehode, Utiraruto, and Benjamin Penny. "Tension between the Chinese Government and Transnational Qigong Groups: Management by the State and Their Dissemination Overseas." In Chinese Religions Going Global, edited by Nanlai Cao, Giuseppe Giordan, and Fenggang Yang, 194–209. Annual Review of the Socviology of Religion, vol. 11. Leiden: Brill, 2021.


Ownby, David, "Imperial Fantasies: The Chinese Communists and Peasant Rebellions." Comparative Studies in Society & History 43(2001)1: 65-91.

Abstract: The author seeks to carry forward the discussion of popular religions in the People's Republic of China in their conflicts with the state, which tends to view them under the rubric of "feudal superstition" & as signs of tradition resisting modernization. The Way of the Temple of Heavenly Immortals is one such religion, which, exceptionally, has sacred texts that may be consulted to see the relation from the other side. Traditional popular morality, the healing powers of its leaders, & the coming apocalypse are themes of those scriptures, to which the government & the believers give decidedly different interpretations. 42 References. Adapted from the source document. [Source of abstract: SOCIOFILE]


Ownby, David, Falungong and China's Future. Blue Ridge Summit, PA: Rowman & Littlefield, 2002.


Ownby, David, "A History of Falun Gong: Popular Religion and the Chinese State since the Ming Dynasty." Nova religio 6(2003)2: 223-243.


Ownby, David. "The Falun Gong: A New Religious Movement in Post-Mao China." In: James R. Lewis & Jesper Aagaard Petersen [eds.], Controversial New Religions. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005. Pp. 195-214.


Ownby, David. "Qigong, Falun Gong, and the Body Politic in Contemporary China." In China's Transformations: the Stories Beyond the Headlines, edited by Lionel M. Jensen & Timothy B. Weston. Lanham, Md.; Toronto: Rowman & Littlefield, 2007. Pp. 90-111.


Ownby, David. "Sect and Secularism in Reading the Modern Chinese Religious Experience." Archives de sciences sociales des religions 144 (2008): 13-29.

Abstract: This article analyses Western historiography of so-called Chinese “sectarian” movements and shows how scholars have adopted the late imperial state’s invention of a coherent sectarian tradition, described as the enemy of state and society. Such an invention has prevented historians from seeing the continuities between popular religious movements of the late imperial period and new religions of the twentieth century, such as the redemptive societies since the 1910s or the Qigong movements of the 1980s and 90s. Against this background, the article argues that we should rethink the categories used in studying Chinese religions, beginning with “sectarian”, and clarify the connections between the social-scientific study of religion and its political treatment that such categories facilitate.


Ownby, David. Falun Gong and the Future of China. New York: Oxford University Press, 2008.

Abstract: On April 25, 1999, ten thousand Falun Gong practitioners gathered outside Zhongnanhai, the guarded compound where China's highest leaders live and work, in a day-long peaceful protest of police brutality against fellow practitioners in the neighboring city of Tianjin. Stunned and surprised, China's leaders launched a campaign of brutal suppression against the group which continues to this day. This book, written by a leading scholar of the history of this Chinese popular religion, is the first to offer a full explanation of what Falun Gong is and where it came from, placing the group in the broader context of the modern history of Chinese religion as well as the particular context of post-Mao China.

Falun Gong began as a form of qigong , a general name describing physical and mental disciplines based loosely on traditional Chinese medical and spiritual practices. Qigong was "invented" in the 1950s by members of the Chinese medical establishment who were worried that China's traditional healing arts would be lost as China modeled its new socialist health care system on Western biomedicine. In the late 1970s, Chinese scientists "discovered" that qi possessed genuine scientific qualities, which allowed qigong to become part of China's drive for modernization. With the support of China's leadership, qigong became hugely popular in the 1980s and 1990s, as charismatic qigong > masters attracted millions of enthusiastic practitioners in what was known as the qigong boom, the first genuine mass movement in the history of the People's Republic.

Falun Gong founder Li Hongzhi started his own school of qigong in 1992, claiming that the larger movement had become corrupted by money and magic tricks. Li was welcomed into the qigong world and quickly built a nationwide following of several million practitioners, but ran afoul of China's authorities and relocated to the United States in 1995. In his absence, followers in China began to organize peaceful protests of perceived media slights of Falun Gong, which increased from the mid-'90s onward as China's leaders began to realize that they had created, in the qigong boom, a mass movement with religious and nationalistic undertones, a potential threat to their legitimacy and control.

Based on fieldwork among Chinese Falun Gong practitioners in North America and on close examinations of Li Hongzhi's writings, this volume offers an inside look at the movement's history in Chinese popular religion. [Source: publisher's website]


Palmer, David A. , "Le qigong au carrefour des 'discours anti'. De l'anticléricalisme communiste au fondamentalisme du Falungong." Extrême-Orient, Extrême-Occident 24(2002): 153-166.


Palmer, David A. La fièvre du Qigong: guérison, religion et politique en Chine, 1949-1999. Paris: Éditions de l'École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales, 2005.

Abstract: Dérivé des pratiques chinoises traditionnelles d'entraînement corporel et mental, le qigong ou " travail du souffle " a suscité un engouement de masse en Chine au cours des décennies 1980 et 1990, au point d'entraîner ses adeptes dans un conflit religieux et politique jusqu'à la répression en 1999 du Falungong, secte issue du mouvement.
Qu'y avait-il derrière cette gymnastique du souffle pour qu'elle aspire dans sa gestuelle des dizaines de millions de Chinois ? Comment une pratique d'abord reconnue et encouragée par les chefs du Parti communiste chinois comme méthode de guérison et comme nouvelle révolution scientifique a-t-elle pu devenir le foyer d'une explosion religieuse de masse, puis déclencher une confrontation politique?
Le qigong moderne, fruit d'une volonté politique de séculariser les formes traditionnelles de guérison, est créé par l'État chinois dans les premiers temps de la République populaire. Mais dans les années 1980, le qigong devient le véhicule d'un mouvement de religiosité populaire légitimé par une idéologie qui se réfère aussi bien à la tradition antique qu'à la Science. Dans les années 1990, plusieurs stratégies s'affrontent, visant au contrôle des milliers de maîtres et des millions d'adeptes ainsi qu'à la gestion du potentiel symbolique, économique et politique du mouvement. C'est une radicalisation idéologique, religieuse et politique qui l'emporte, avec le militantisme du Falungong et sa répression par l'État.
[...] Il y a quelques années, Falungong ébranlait la cité interdite. Bien des observateurs de l'après-Mao ne s'attendaient pas non plus à voir surgir, non point dans de lointaines campagnes, mais au coeur urbain du "miracle" économique, dans un monde réputé matérialiste, individualiste et banalement sécularisé, un pan oublié de la vieille Chine, une révolte sectaire allumée à la face du pouvoir! On voulut trop vite classer l'affaire en concluant au retour d'une tradition engouffrée dans le vide spirituel laissé par l'abandon du communisme et en jugeant qu'entre la secte et le néo-empire, l'altérité était complète et l'affrontement inévitable. Heureusement, quelques années plus tôt, à Chengdu, au coeur du Sichuan, David Palmer avait entrepris une enquête minutieuse qui prouve le contraire et nous oblige, maintenant que la fièvre est retombée sous les coups de la répression, à ne pas oublier Falungong, à le comprendre comme un phénomène de recomposition religieuse propre au monde d'aujourd'hui tout en repensant la société des réformes post-maoïstes et l'histoire du régime communiste qui en ont permis le développement. [Source: publisher's website.]


Palmer, David A. Qigong Fever: Body, Science, and Utopia in China. New York: Columbia University Press, 2007.

Abstract: Qigong&emdash;a regimen of body, breath, and mental training exercisesmdash;was one of the most widespread cultural and religious movements of late-twentieth-century urban China. The practice was promoted by senior Communist Party leaders as a uniquely Chinese healing tradition and as a harbinger of a new scientific revolution, yet the movement's mass popularity and the almost religious devotion of its followers led to its ruthless suppression.

In this absorbing and revealing book, David A. Palmer relies on a combination of historical, anthropological, and sociological perspectives to describe the spread of the qigong craze and its reflection of key trends that have shaped China since 1949, including the search for a national identity and an emphasis on the absolute authority of science. Qigong offered the promise of an all-powerful technology of the body rooted in the mysteries of Chinese culture. However, after 1995 the scientific underpinnings of qigong came under attack, its leaders were denounced as charlatans, and its networks of followers, notably Falungong, were suppressed as "evil cults."

According to Palmer, the success of the movement proves that a hugely important religious dimension not only survived under the CCP but was actively fostered, if not created, by high-ranking party members. Tracing the complex relationships among the masters, officials, scientists, practitioners, and ideologues involved in qigong, Palmer opens a fascinating window on the transformation of Chinese tradition as it evolved along with the Chinese state. As he brilliantly demonstrates, the rise and collapse of the qigong movement is key to understanding the politics and culture of post-Mao society. [Source: publisher's website.]


Palmer, David A. “Heretical Doctrines, Reactionary Secret Societies, Evil Cults: Labeling Heterodoxy in Twentieth-Century China.” In: Mayfair Mei-hui Yang [ed.], Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Pp. 113-134.

Palmer, David A. "Les mutations du discours sur les sectes en Chine moderne: orthodoxie impériale, idéologie révolutionnaire, catégories sociologiques." Archives de sciences sociales des religions 144 (2008): 31-50.

Abstract: What is the evolution of official discourse on stigmatized religious groups in China, from the late 19th century until today? In imperial China, the state always defined itself as the upholder of orthodoxy against popular rebellions inspired by the « heretical doctrines », xiejiao. In the Peoples’ Republic of China, from the 1950’s to 80’s, it was the label huidaomen, « reactionary secret societies », which was used by the Chinese Communist Party to stigmatize and repress hundreds of popular groups. But since the late 1990’s, the term xiejiao reappeared in official discourse, translating the rhetoric of Western anti-cult associations in order to justify the suppression of Falungong and other groups.


Palmer, David A. “China’s Religious Danwei: Institutionalising Religion in the People’s Republic.” China Perspectives 2009/4: 17-30.

Abstract: This article is a study of the continuities and changes in the state-led institutionalisation of religion in the PRC from 1979 to 2009 and their effects on the structuring of China’s religious field. A normative discourse on religion is constituted by a network of Party leaders, officials, academics, and religious leaders. Official religious institutions have become hybrids of religious culture with the institutional habitus of work units ( danwei) in the socialist market economy. A wide range of religious practices have found legitimacy under secular labels such as health, science, culture, tourism, or heritage. Religious affairs authorities have begun to acknowledge the existence of this expanding realm of religious life, and to accord discursive legitimacy to the previously stigmatised or ignored categories of popular religion and new religions, but hesitate to propose an explicit change in policy.


Penny, Benjamin. "The Past, Present and Future of Falun Gong." Lecture at the National Library of Australia, Canberra, 2001, http://www.nla.gov.au/grants/haroldwhite/papers/bpenny.html


Penny, Benjamin, "The Life and Times of Li Hongzhi: Falun Gong and Religious Biography." The China Quarterly 175 (2003): 643-661.

Abstract: When the suppression of the falun gong started in July 1999, one of the targets of the government's propaganda was the biography of Li Hongzhi, its founder and leader. This article examines two versions of a biography of Li Hongzhi published by the falun gong in 1993 and 1994 that are no longer available. This biography presents Li as possessing superhuman abilities and god-like insight. In my analysis, I place this biography in the context of a centuries-old tradition of religious biography in China showing that, in textual terms, it represents a contemporary example of that venerable genre. As with its precursors, this biography seeks to establish a genealogy of the figure whose life is recorded and to buttress the orthodoxy of his doctrine. [Source: Cambridge University Press website.]


Penny, Benjamin. “Animal Spirits, Karmic Retribution, Falungong and the State.” In: Mayfair Mei-hui Yang [ed.], Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Pp. 135-154.


Penny, Benjamin. The Religion of Falun Gong. Chicago: Chicago University Press, 2012.

Abstract: In July 1999, a mere seven years after the founding of the religious movement known as the Falun Gong, the Chinese government banned it. Falun Gong is still active in other countries, and its suppression has become a primary concern of human rights activists and is regularly discussed in dealings between the Chinese government and its Western counterparts. But while much has been written on Falun Gong’s relation to political issues, no one has analyzed in depth what its practitioners actually believe and do. The Religion of Falun Gong remedies that omission, providing the first serious examination of Falun Gong teachings. Benjamin Penny argues that in order to understand Falun Gong, one must grasp the beliefs, practices, and texts of the movement and its founder, Li Hongzhi. Contextualizing Li’s ideas in terms of the centuries-long Chinese tradition of self-cultivation and the cultural world of 1980s and ’90s China—particularly the upwelling of biospiritual activity and the influx of translated works from the Western New Age movement—Penny shows how both have influenced Li’s writings and his broader view of the cosmos. An illuminating look at this controversial movement, The Religion of Falun Gong opens a revealing window into the nature and future of contemporary China.(Source: publisher's website)


Poon, Shuk Wah, "Refashioning Popular Religion: Common People and the State in Republican Guangzhou, 1911--1937." Thesis (Ph.D.), Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, 2001, 207p.

Abstract: In its search for a modern China after the 1911 Revolution, the Nationalist regime not only mobilized public resources to strengthen the regime's administrative, financial, and military control over society, but also strove to nurture a new official culture in order to foster citizens' allegiance to the nation. Scholarship on the relationship between state and local society tends to emphasize how modern nation-states' dissemination of political ideology and urban values breaks down local cultural beliefs and leads to the homogenization of people's behavior and thoughts. By unfolding the process of state expansion into the domain of popular religion in Republican Guangzhou from the experiences of the grassroots people, this dissertation argues that official values and symbols did not dominate popular religion. Facing the expansion of state culture that stressed the modern ideas of "evolution," "science," and "anti-superstition," common people resisted by refashioning popular religion into state-approved forms of existence. Thus, the infiltration of national symbols into society did not necessarily mean the replacement of local traditions by national culture. Instead of being integrated into the national culture advocated by the political authority, common people in fact preserved their local traditions underneath the surface of cultural integration. By refashioning their own religion into state-approved forms, the common people at the same time refashioned the meanings and representations of national culture in local society. [Source: Dissertation Abstracts International]


Poon Shuk Wah, "Refashioning Festivals in Republican Guangzhou." Modern China 30(2004)2: 199-227.

Abstract: Influenced by the concept of evolution, the Republican regime branded popular religious beliefs and practices as superstition, believing that the eradication of superstition was crucial to the making of modern citizens. Government policies not only affected the development of popular religion but also reshaped the relationship between the state and the common people. Tracing the changes of the Double Seven Festival and the Ghost Festival in Republican Guangzhou, this article aims to show the complexities of the contestations between the state and the common people in actual religious settings, particularly the interaction between official culture and traditional festivals. It argues that although new national symbols successfully found their way into common people's religious lives, helping to give a nationalistic outlook to traditional festivals, underneath the expansion of an official culture, a rich variety of local traditions persisted. By appropriating official symbols, the common people refashioned and preserved their religious traditions. [Source: article]


Poon, Shuk-wah. “Religion, Modernity, and Urban Space: The City God Temple in Republican Guangzhou.” Modern China 34.2 (2008): 247-275.

Abstract: This article examines the impact of the Nationalist regime's modernizing project on the religious landscape and people's public behavior in Republican Guangzhou. In the transformation of the Guangzhou City God Temple, urban space became a place of contest between the government's modernizing project and urban people's religious traditions. In 1931, the municipal government converted the City God Temple into the Native Goods Exhibition Hall, a political space that attempted to foster patriotic consumption among the populace. Yet, beneath the surface, the people of Guangzhou continued to treat the "exhibition hall" as a religious space for expressing their faith in their patron god. While the government was doubtless an important force in modernizing the urban landscape, the city's people managed to inscribe their values onto the urban public space. [Source: journal]


Porter, Noah, Falun Gong in the United States: An Ethnographic Study. Parkland, FL: dissertation.com, 2003. Note: Originally an M.A. thesis at the University of South Florida. Can be purchased at http://www.dissertation.com.

Abstract: Falun Gong, also known as Falun Dafa, has been described in many ways. It has been called qigong, one of many schools of physical exercises that aim at improving health and developing supernatural abilities. Scholars and mainstream media have referred it to as a spiritual movement or religion, although practitioners claim it is not a religion. It has been called a cult, in the pejorative sense rather than in a sociological context, by the Chinese government and by some Western critics. In the writings of Li Hongzhi, the founder of Falun Gong, it is referred to in different ways, though primarily as a cultivation practice.

The question of how to define Falun Gong is not just an academic issue; the use of the cult label has been used to justify the persecution of practitioners in China. To a limited degree, the Chinese Government is able to extend the persecution overseas. How society defines Falun Gong has implications for action on the level of policy, as well as the shaping of social, cultural, and personal attitudes.

This research project addresses what Falun Gong is through ethnography. Research methods included participant-observation, semi-structured ethnographic interviews (both in-person and on-line), and content analysis of text and visual data from Falun Gong books, pamphlets, and websites. Research sites included Tampa, Washington D.C., and cyberspace. In order to keep my research relevant to the issues and concerns of the Falun Gong community, I was in regular contact with the Tampa practitioners, keeping them abreast of my progress and asking for their input.

My findings are contrary to the allegations made by the Chinese Government and Western anti-cultists in many ways. Practitioners are not encouraged to rely on Western medicine, but are not prohibited from using it. Child practitioners are not put at risk. Their organizational structure is very loose. Finally, the Internet has played a vital role in Falun Gong's growth and continuation after the crackdown. [Source: dissertation.com]


Potter, Pitman B., "Belief in Control: Regulation of Religion in China." The China Quarterly 174(2003): 338-358.


Powers, John & Meg Y.M. Lee, "Dueling Media: Symbolic Conflict in China's Falun Gong Suppression Campaign." In: Guo-Ming Chen & Ringo Ma [eds.], Chinese Conflict Management and Resolution. Westport, Conn.; London: Ablex, 2002. Pp. 259-274.


Pramod, C.R., "Falun Gong: Understanding the 'Threat' Perception of 'Gods' and 'Demons' in the People's Republic of China." China Report (New Delhi) 36(2001)1: 101-107.


Prazniak, Roxann, Dialogues across Civilizations: Sketches in World History from the Chinese and European Experiences. Boulder: Westview Press, 1996. Chapter 4: "Popular Protest and Rural Activism: The Utopian Visions of Thomas Müntzer and Hong Xiuquan." Pp.76-95.


Prazniak, Roxann, Of Camel Kings and Other Things: Rural Rebels Against Modernity in Late Imperial China. Lanham: Rowman & Littlefield, 1999.


Ptak, Roderich. “Mazu and the Mid-Ming ‘Wokou’ Crisis: A Theoretical Approach.” In The Mazu Cult: Historical Studies and Cross-Cultural Comparisons, edited by Cai Jiehua & Marc Nürnberger, 111-127. Lisbon: Centro Cientifico e Cultural de Macau/Centro de História da Universidade de Lisboa, 2017.


Ptak, Roderich, and Jiehua Cai. "Reconsidering the Role of Mazu under the Early Hongwu Reign." Ming Qing Yanjiu 20, no. 1 (2017): 3–20.

Abstract: The worship of Mazu, the Chinese Goddess of Sailors, began in Fujian, under the early Song. Migrants from that province gradually spread this cult to other coastal regions and among the overseas Chinese in Southeast Asia. The present article investigates one particular episode in the history of the Mazu cult. Its stage is Guangzhou and the period dealt with is the beginning of the Hongwu reign. In 1368, Liao Yongzhong’s troops moved to that city, putting it under control of Zhu Yuanzhang, the first Ming emperor. Local chronicles pertaining to Guangdong and certain other sources briefly refer to this event. They report that Liao promoted the worship of Mazu in that region and they indicate that Mazu received an official title in 1368, by imperial order. The Tianfei xiansheng lu, one of the key texts for the Mazu cult, provides different details: It associates the title granted by the imperial court with the year 1372, and not with the context of Central Guangdong. Furthermore, the attributes which form part of the title vary from one text to the next. The paper discusses these and other points, arguing there could be two different narrative traditions surrounding Mazu’s role in 1368/72: the Guangdong version and the “conventional” view, similar to the one found in Tianfei xiansheng lu. Although there is no definite solution for this dilemma, the article tries to expose the general background into which one may embed these observations. (Source: journal)


Puett, Michael J., To Become a God: Cosmology, Sacrifice, and Self-Divinization in Early China. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, Harvard University Press, 2002.

Abstract: Evidence from Shang oracle bones to memorials submitted to Western Han emperors attests to a long-lasting debate in early China over the proper relationship between humans and gods. One pole of the debate saw the human and divine realms as separate and agonistic and encouraged divination to determine the will of the gods and sacrifices to appease and influence them. The opposite pole saw the two realms as related and claimed that humans could achieve divinity and thus control the cosmos. This wide-ranging book reconstructs this debate and places within their contemporary contexts the rival claims concerning the nature of the cosmos and the spirits, the proper demarcation between the human and the divine realms, and the types of power that humans and spirits can exercise. It is often claimed that the worldview of early China was unproblematically monistic and that hence China had avoided the tensions between gods and humans found in the West. By treating the issues of cosmology, sacrifice, and self-divinization in a historical and comparative framework that attends to the contemporary significance of specific arguments, Michael J. Puett shows that the basic cosmological assumptions of ancient China were the subject of far more debate than is generally thought. [Source: publisher's website]


Qian, Linliang. „Everyday Religiosity in the State Sphere: Folk Beliefs and Practices in a Chinese State-run Orphanage.“ China Information 30, no.1 (2016): 81-98.

Abstract: The religious sector in contemporary China is often portrayed as resisting or negotiating with an interventionist state in order to survive or protect its autonomy. This article, however, shows how it enters the state sphere and imbues the presumed state agents. By exploring folk beliefs and practices in a state-run orphanage (such as philanthropists’ activities, which they related to accumulation of karmic merits, childcare workers’ discourses, conduct associated with predestined relationships and baby ghosts, and institution officials’ preoccupation with palmistry, fortune telling and karmic retribution), and the impact of folk belief and practices on the working of the state apparatus, this study aims to enrich current scholarship by looking at state–religion interactions beyond the religious sphere and also reversing the image of Chinese religions as merely passive or reactive actors. (Source: journal)

Qu, Ray X. L. “Popular Religion Temples in Fujian, Southeast China: The Politics of State Intervention, 1990s–2010s.” Modern China 2020 (Online prepublication), https://doi.org/10.1177/0097700419899038

Abstract: This article presents an ethnographic examination of state intervention in popular religion temples in Fujian, southeast China. Specifically, it surveys the state presence in four temples, explores how and why the local state adopted a varied approach to religious organizations in the same religious tradition, and examines the mutually legitimating relations of state and religion. State-religion relations are constantly changing, highly variable, and context-bound. The state-religion interactions in Fujian demonstrate that to a certain extent the uneven revitalization of temple-based popular religion shaped, and was shaped by, the degree of state presence. I argue that the performance-based legitimacy of the nation-state has been fortified through local-state projects devoted to religious tourism, intra- religious competition, and the Taiwan issue, and that the Chinese state has the potential to influence a reemerging traditional form of authority at the local level through varying degrees of state presence in religious organizations.


Rahn, Patsy, "The Chemistry of a Conflict: The Chinese Government and the Falun Gong." Terrorism and Political Violence 14(2002)4: 41-65.


Rahn, Patsy, "The Chemistry of a Conflict: the Chinese Government and the Falun Gong." Cultic Studies Review (Online) 2(2003)2. http://www.culticstudiesreview.org/


Remoiville, Julie. "Le renouveau religieux en Chine contemporaine: Le rôle social des lieux de culte en contexte urbain." Études chinoises 33, no.1 (2014): 133-146.

Abstract: Les nouvelles politiques et réformes mises en place au lendemain de la Révolution Culturelle en Chine ont permis un renouveau religieux dans les milieux urbains, exerçant ses effets sur la structuration même du champ religieux chinois. Après une brève présentation de la situation religieuse de la ville de Hangzhou, capitale de la province du Zhejiang, je propose dans cette note de recherche d’analyser le rôle social que peuvent jouer aujourd’hui les lieux de culte en contexte urbain. En effet, une analyse des différentes activités religieuses que l’on peut observer dans les lieux de culte de la ville, ainsi que des types de fidèle pratiquant ces activités, permet de constater qu’il existe actuellement une coupure sociale profonde entre les acteurs de la vie religieuse autour des petits temples et ceux autour des temples officiels, reconnus par l’État.


Richardson, James T.; Edelman, Bryan. "Cult Controversies and Legal Developments Concerning New Religions in Japan and China." In: James T. Richardson [ed.], Regulating Religion: Case Studies from Around the Globe. New York: Kluwer Academic / Plenum, 2004. Pp. 359-380.


Rosedale, Herbert L., "Ideology, Demonization, and Scholarship: the Need for Objectivity--a Response to Robbins' Comments on Rosedale, the Chinese Government, and Falun Gong." Cultic Studies Review (Online) 2(2003)2. http://www.culticstudiesreview.org/


Schechter, Danny, Falun Gong's Challenge to China: Spiritual Practice or "Evil Cult". New York: Akashic Books, 2000.


Schipper, Kristofer, "Structures liturgiques et société civile à Pékin." Sanjiao wenxian 1 (1997): 9-23.


Schneewind, Sarah, "Competing Institutions: Community Schools and 'Improper Shrines' in Sixteenth Century China." Late Imperial China 20(1999)1: 85-106.


Schneewind, Sarah. "Beyond Flattery: Legitimating Political Participation in a Ming Living Shrine." Journal of Asian Studies 72, no.2 (2013): 345-366.  


Scott, Gregory. "Heterodox Religious Groups and the State in Ming-Qing China." M.A. thesis, University of Toronto, 2005.

Abstract: The present paper looks at two texts relating to 'White Lotus' sectarian religious groups in China during the Ming and Qing dynasties and examines how they illuminate the relationship between heterodox cults and the state during this period. Huang Yupian's A Detailed Refutation of Heresy demonstrates how the government viewed the heretical teachings presented in sectarian scripture, while the Chuxi baojuan is an example of a scripture that expresses orthodox moral values while criticizing the contemporary society and government.Based on the selected translations provided of the two texts, as well as the research and scholarship of other researchers in the field, it is argued that the key factors behind the conflict between religious groups and the state are still influencing present-day Chinese society, as evidenced by the fate of the Falun Gong group in the People's Republic. [Source: thesis]


Seiwert, Hubert, "Falun Gong - Eine neue religiöse Bewegung als innenpolitischer Hauptfeind der chinesischen Regierung." Religion - Staat - Gesellschaft 1(2000) 1: 119-145.


Seiwert, Hubert. "Ancestor Worship and State Rituals in Contemporary China: Fading Boundaries between Religious and Secular." Zeitschrift für Religionswissenschaft 24, no. 2 (2016): 127-152.

Abstract: The paper argues that the distinction between religious and secular realms of society is not as clear-cut in modern societies as it appears in theories of functional and institutional differentiation. The data used are mainly from China with a short excursion to the United States. The starting point is ancestor worship, which is a central element of traditional Chinese religion. The significance of ancestor worship in Chinese history and culture is briefly explained to illustrate on the one hand its central importance as a ritual practice and on the other hand the ambiguities of interpretation. On this basis, some theoretical considerations about the existence of ancestors are presented. This is followed by a report on contemporary temple festivals focusing on the worship of Fuxi, a mythic figure considered to be the first ancestor of the Chinese people. The next step is the description of official state rituals devoted to the worship of the very same mythological hero in contemporary China. Against this backdrop, the last part of the paper discusses the theoretical questions of classification and distinguishing between the religious and the secular. (Source: journal)


Seiwert, Hubert. “The Dynamics of Religions and Cultural Evolution: Worshipping Fuxi in Contemporary China.” In Dynamics of Religion: Past and Present, ed. Christoph Bochinger and Jörg Rüpke, 9–29. Berlin: De Gruyter, 2016.

Abstract: The paper discusses the theme of the congress ‘Dynamics of Religions’ in the theoretical context of cultural evolution. In contrast to the prevailing progression model of cultural evolution, it proposes a diversification model that allows for considering the dynamics of religions on the micro-level. In this view, a central element of cultural evolution is the dialectical relationship between cultural production and cultural environment, which is the outcome of cultural production and at the same time enables and restricts further production. The approach is exemplified by the religious dynamics in contemporary China focusing on the worship of Fuxi in popular and state rituals. The example also serves to illustrate divergent views of what counts as religion. (Source: book)


Sharot, Stephen, "China: State Religion, Elites, and Popular Religion in a Syncretistic Milieu." In: Stephen Sharot [ed.], A Comparative Sociology of World Religions: Virtuosos, Priests, and Popular Religion. New York: New York University Press, 2001. Pp.70-101.


Shek, Richard, "Ethics and Polity: the Heterodoxy of Buddhism, Maitreyanism, and the Early White Lotus." In: Kwang-Ching Liu and Richard Shek [eds.], Heterodoxy in late Imperial China. Honolulu : University of Hawai'i Press, 2004. Pp. 73-108.


Shue, Vivienne, "Global Imaginings, the State's Quest for Hegemony, and the Pursuit of Phantom Freedom in China: from Heshang to Falun Gong." In: Catarina Kinnvall & Kristina Jonsson [eds.], Globalization and Democratization in Asia: the Construction of Identity. London; New York: Routledge, 2002. Pp.210-229


Shue, Vivienne. "Legitimacy Crisis in China?" In: Peter Hays Gries & Stanley Rosen [eds.]. State and Society in 21st-Century China: Crisis, Contention, and Legitimation. New York, Abingdon: RoutledgeCurzon, 2004. Pp. 24-49.


Smith, Steve A. “Local Cadres Confront the Supernatural: The Politics of Holy Water (Shenshui) in the PRC, 1949–1966.” The China Quarterly 188 (2006): 999-1022.

Abstract: This article examines incidents in which the miracle-working properties of a source of water or other substance are discovered, thereby sparking unauthorized visits by hundreds or thousands of people to gain access to it. The article examines: the meanings of holy water and the motivations of those who set off in search for it; the sociological dimension of these quests; the extent to which such episodes were a deliberate attempt by enemies of the regime, principally redemptive religious sects (huidaomen), to sow disorder; the reaction of the authorities to outbreaks of holy water fever and the measures they took to deal with it; and what such outbreaks reveal about the nature of the local state and about popular attitudes to it in the first decade-and-a-half of the People's Republic of China.


Smith, Steve A. "Talking Toads and Chinless Ghosts: The Politics of 'Superstitious' Rumors in the People's Republic of China, 1961-1965." American Historical Review 111.2 (2006): 405-427.


Smith, S.A. "Redemptive Religious Societies and the Communist State, 1949 to the 1980s." In Maoism at the Grassroots : Everyday Life in China's Era of High Socialism, edited by Jeremy Brown and Matthew D. Johnson, 340–364. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 2015.


Sue, Takashi, "The Shock of the Year Hsüan-ho 2: the Abrupt Change in the Granting of Plaques and Titles during Hui-tsung's Reign." Acta Asiatica 84(2003): 80-125.


Sutton, Donald S., "From Credulity to Scorn: Confucians Confront the Spirit Mediums in Late Imperial China." Late Imperial China 21(2000)2: 1-39.


Sutton, Donald S., "Prefect Feng and the Yangzhou Drought of 1490: A Ming Social Crisis and the Rewards of Sincerity." Journal of Chinese Ritual, Theatre and Folklore / Minsu quyi 143(2004): 13-48. (Special issue on "Disasters and Religion", edited by Paul R. Katz and Wu Hsiu-ling)


Szabo de Bucs, Daniel, "Die Lehre Li Hongzhis und deren Kritik in den Medien der VR China." Berliner China-Hefte: Beiträge zur Gesellschaft und Geschichte Chinas 19(2000): 86-96.


Szonyi, Michael, "Local Cult, Lijia, and Lineage: Religious and Social Organization in the Fuzhou Region in the Ming and Qing." Journal of Chinese Religions 28(2000): 93-126.


Szonyi, Michael, Practicing Kinship: Lineage and Descent in Late Imperial China. Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2002. (Note: See especially ch.6 "The Local Cult: Lijia, Lineage, and Temple")

Abstract: Presenting a new approach to the history of Chinese kinship, this book attempts to bridge the gap between anthropological and historical scholarship on the Chinese lineage by considering its development in terms of individual and collective strategies. Based on a wide range of newly available sources such as lineage genealogies and stone inscriptions, as well as oral history and extensive observation of contemporary ritual practice in the field, this work explores the historical development of kinship in villages of the Fuzhou region of southeastern Fujian province.

In the late imperial period (1368-1911), the people of Fuzhou compiled lengthy genealogies, constructed splendid ancestral halls, and performed elaborate collective rituals of ancestral sacrifice, testimony to the importance they attached to organized patrilineal kinship. In their writings on the lineage, members of late imperial elites presented such local behavior as the straightforward expression of universal and eternal principles. In this book, the author shows that kinship in the Fuzhou region was a form of strategic practice that was always flexible and negotiable. In using the concepts and institutions of kinship, individuals and groups redefined them to serve their own purposes, which included dealing with ethnic differentiation, competing for power and status, and formulating effective responses to state policies. Official efforts to promote a neo-Confucian agenda, to register land and population, and to control popular religion drove people to organize themselves on kinship principles and to institutionalize their kinship relationships. Local efforts to turn compliance with official policies, or at least claims of compliance, to local advantage meant that policymakers were continually frustrated.

Because kinship was constituted in a complex of representations, it was never stable or fixed, but fluid and multiple. In offering this new perspective on this history of Chinese lineage practices, the author also provides new insights into the nature of cultural integration and state control in traditional Chinese society. (Source: publisher's webpage)


Szonyi, Michael. "The Virgin and the Chinese State: The Cult of Wang Yulan and the Politics of Local Identity on Jinmen (Quemoy)." Journal of Ritual Studies 19(2005)1: 87-98.


Szonyi, Michael. "The Virgin and the Chinese State: The Cult of Wang Yulan and the Politics of Local Identity on Jinmen (Quemoy)." In Asian Ritual Systems: Syncretisms and Ruptures, edited by Pamela J. Stewart & Andrew Strathern. Durham, N.C.: Carolina Academic Press, 2007. Pp.183-208.


Tam, Wai-lun. "The Worship of Local Gods and Traditional Chinese Society." Ching Feng N.S. 3(2002)1-2: 177-190.


Taylor, Romeyn, "Official Altars, Temples, and Shrines for All Counties in Ming and Qing." T'oung Pao 83 (1997) 1-3: 93-125.


Thornton, Patricia M. "Manufacturing Dissent in Transnational China." In: Popular Protest in China, ed. by Kevin J. O'Brien. Cambridge, Mass.; Harvard University Press, 2008. Pp. 179-204.


Thornton, Patricia M. “The New Cybersects: Popular Religion, Repression and Resistance.” In: Elizabeth J. Perry & Mark Selden [eds.], Chinese Society: Change, Conflict and Resistance. Third edition. London; New York: Routledge, 2010. Pp. 215-238.


Thornton, Susanna, "Provinces, City Gods and Salt Merchants: Provincial Identity in Ming and Qing Dynasty Hangzhou." In: Tao Tao Liu & David Faure [eds.], Unity and Diversity: Local Cultures and Identities in China. Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 1996. Pp.15-35.


Tischer, Jacob. Mazus neue Heimat: Interpretationen und Institutionen einer chinesischen Göttin in Taiwan. Berlin: regiospectra Verlag, 2014.

Abstract: Wie kann eine chinesische Göttin zum Symbol einer nationalen taiwanischen Identität werden? Welchen Einfluss üben lokale Gemeindetempel auf die Formulierung politischer Maßnahmen der taiwanischen Regierung aus? Welche institutionelle Rolle spielen sie im demokratischen Prozess? Diesen Fragen widmet sich Jacob Tischer in seiner Analyse der heutigen Bedeutung Mazus, deren Entwicklung er historisch nachverfolgt und dabei neben der religiösen auch politische und soziokulturelle Dimensionen einbezieht. Mazu ist mit über 800 ihr gewidmeten Tempeln eine der bedeutendsten Gottheiten Taiwans. Obwohl aus China stammend, ist die Göttin ein wichtiger Anker für verschiedene lokale und regionale Identitäten und wird sogar als Repräsentantin der Einheit aller Taiwanerinnen und Taiwaner wahrgenommen. Mazus Stellung als Schutzpatronin Taiwans ist jedoch – wie die politische Unabhängigkeit des Inselstaats selbst – aufgrund chinesischer Ansprüche prekär. (Source: publisher's website)


Tsai, Lily Lee, "Cadres, Temple and Lineage Institutions, and Governance in Rural China." The China Journal 48(2002): 1-27.


Tong, James, "An Organizational Analysis of the Falun Gong: Structure, Communications, Financing." The China Quarterly 171(2002): 636-660.


Tong, James. "Anatomy of Regime Repression in China: Timing, Enforcement Institutions, and Target Selection in Banning the Falungong, July 1999." Asian Survey 42(2002)6: 795-820.


Tong, James W. "Publish to Perish: Regime Choices and Propaganda Impact in the Anti-Falungong Publications Campaign, July 1999-April 2000." Journal of Contemporary China 14, no.44 (2005): 507-523.


Tong, James W. “Banding after the Ban: the Underground Falungong in China, 1999-2011.” Journal of Contemporary China 21, no.78 (2012): 1045-1062.


Vanni, Elena, "Il Falun Gong: aspetti sociali, politici e religiosi del nuovo movimento spirituale cinese." Mondo Cinese, no.105 (2000): 3-31.


Vermander, Benoît, "Looking at China Through the Mirror of Falun Gong." China Perspectives, no.35(2001): 4-13.


Vermander, Benoît. "The Law and the Wheel: The Narrative of Falungong." In: Elise Anne DeVido and Benoît Vermander [eds.], Creeds, Rites and Videotapes: Narrating Religious Experience in East Asia. Taipei: Taipei Ricci Institute, 2004. Pp.151-183.


Wang, Mingming, "Place, Administration, and Territorial Cults in Late Imperial China. A Case Study from South Fujian." Late Imperial China 16(1995)1:33-78.


Wang Mingming, "Shiding Village: Popular Authority, Life History, and Social Power." Chinese Studies in History 34(2001)4: 12-83. (Note: A re-study of the site of Stephan Feuchtwang's field research in the 1960s. Translated from the Chinese by David Ownby.)


Wang, Shu-Li. “Who Owns ‘the Culture of the Yellow Emperor’?” In Heritage and Religion in East Asia, edited by Shu-Li Wang, Michael Rowlands, and Yujie Zhu, 32–52. London: Routledge, 2021.


Wang, Wensheng. “White Lotus Rebels and South China Pirates: Social Crises and Political Changes in the Qing Empire, 1796—1810.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of California, Irvine, 2008.

Abstract: This dissertation is a multi-case, multi-region study of two concomitant crises--the White Lotus rebellion in central China (1796-1805) and outbursts of piracy across the South China Sea (1790s-1810)--during the Jiaqing reign (1796-1820) of the Qing dynasty. Conventional scholarship tends to examine both upheavals from a bottom-up perspective of societal change and to look at them in isolation from each other as clear evidence of state decay. On a broader level, the Jiaqing reign--bounded by the splendid eighteenth century and the tragic post-Opium War era (1839-1911)--has often been depicted as a dead middle era with no meaningful changes, or as the crisis-ridden beginning of dynastic decline. To challenge such an overly simple interpretation, this project takes an in-depth look at the process of crisis management, examining how the emperors, bureaucrats, literati, and local people understood and responded to this extraordinary combination of disturbances (and to each other). This dissertation argues that the two catastrophic events propelled the Qing regime to reorganize itself and thus produced a path-shaping conjuncture in the interlocking structural transformation of state, society, and culture. The resulting changes included a reform of the central bureaucratic establishment, local mobilization under gentry leadership, and a more flexible approach to popular religion, the maritime world, and foreign diplomacy. These adjustments did not represent the acceptance of inevitable dynastic decline as older treatments of the Jiaqing reign suggest, but a pragmatic retreat that sought to pull Qing state making away from a vicious cycle of aggressive overextension that bred resistance back onto a sustainable track of political development. Once we take the creative reform initiatives of this period seriously, we see many of them laid the foundation for long-term successful strategies of late Qing empire building. This dissertation also appropriates recent theoretical insights developed in political science and sociology and, moreover, combines them in a systematic manner. It seeks to advance a broader, more comprehensive approach around the concept of what I term "encompassing contentious crisis" for studying clustering, many-sided upheavals and their role in historical development.


Wang, Xiaoxuan. “Saving Deities for the Community: Religion and the Transformation of Associational Life in Southern Zhejiang, 1949-2014.” PhD thesis, Harvard University, 2015.


Wang, Xiaoxuan. “‘Folk Belief,’ Cultural Turn of Secular Governance and Shifting Religious Landscape in Contemporary China.” In The Secular in South, East, and Southeast Asia, edited by Kenneth Dean and Peter van der Veer, 137–164. Cham: Palgrave Macmillan, 2019.


Wang, Xiaoxuan. Maoism and Grassroots Religion: The Communist Revolution and the Reinvention of Religious Life in China. New York: Oxford University Press, 2020.

Abstract: Maoism and Grassroots Religion explores grassroots religious life under and after Mao in Rui'an County, Wenzhou of southeast China, a region widely known for its religious vitality. Drawing from unexplored local state archives, records of religious institutions, memoirs, and interviews, it tells the story of local communities' encounter with the Communist revolution, and its consequences, especially competition and struggles for religious property and ritual space. Rather than being totally disrupted, Xiaoxuan Wang shows, religious life under Mao was characterized by remarkable variety and unevenness and was contingent on the interactions of local dynamics with Maoist campaigns—including land reform, the Great Leap Forward, and the Cultural Revolution. The revolutionary experience strongly determined the trajectories and development patterns of different religions, inter-religious dynamics, and state-religion relationships in the post-Mao era. Wang goes beyond the image of totalistic control and suppression, to show how Maoism is relevant to religious revitalization in the post-Mao era and, more broadly, the modern fate of Chinese religions and secularism in East Asia. Maoism permanently altered the religious landscape in China, especially by inadvertently promoting the localization and even (in some areas) expansion of Protestant Christianity, as well as the reinvention of traditional communal religion. Contrary to the popular image of total suppression and disruption during the Mao years, this book shows that religious changes under Mao were highly complex and contingent on a confluence of political campaigns, local politics and community responses.The post-Mao religious revival had deep historical roots in the Mao years, Wang argues, and cannot be explained by contemporary economic motives and cultural logics alone. This book calls for a new understanding of Maoism and secularism in the People's Republic of China.


Wang, Xiaoxuan. “Standardization, Bureaucratization, and Convergence: The Transformation of Governance of Religion in Urbanizing China.” Journal of Asian Studies 80, no. 3 (2021): 611–629.

Abstract: This article explores critical shifts in the governance of religion amid massive urbanization and technological advances in contemporary China. Since the turn of the millennium, along with rapid urban transformation, the Chinese state has greatly expanded its reach into and surveillance of religious communities. At the same time, tensions between state initiatives and religious communities have come to the forefront of public attention. So far, scholarly attention has mostly focused on the repression of religious communities, especially Christians. The goal of this article is to highlight broader transitions in the ways religion is governed in China and to reflect on how these transitions should be understood alongside the government's social and political agendas. The advancement of technologies and the extension of the bureaucratic system to maintain control of a rapidly urbanizing society, I argue, have brought about a “technological turn” of secularism in China, which will have a far-reaching impact on religious life.


Wang Xing. "Rethinking the 'Magic State' in China: Political Imagination and Magical Practice in Rural Beijing." Asian Ethnology 77, no. 1-2 (2018): 331-351.

Abstract: This paper discusses the local imagination of the Chinese state in rural Beijing using ethnographic evidence. In particular, it examines the process by which the state is internalized in people's lives through local magical practices and collective memories of traditional rituals, geomancy, and spirit possessions. I argue that the magical aspect of the Chinese state in people's imagination denies an understanding of a magic state as the alternative for a violent and hegemonic reality for the state. In this sense, the Chinese popular perception of the state challenges the established concept of the state as the consequence of an elitist discussion and definition, and at the same time also challenges the national discourse. Furthermore, magical practices and beliefs in rural Beijing in relation to the local comprehension of the Chinese state show that in many cases, the state is considered as powerless.

Watson, James L. "Standardizing the Gods: the Promotion of Tian Hou ('Empress of Heaven') along the South China Coast, 960-1960." In: James L. Watson & Rubie S. Watson, eds. Village Life in Hong Kong: Politics, Gender, and Ritual in the New Territories. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2004. Pp. 269-310


Watson, James L. "Waking the Dragon: Visions of the Chinese Imperial State in Local Myth." In: James L. Watson & Rubie S. Watson, eds. Village Life in Hong Kong: Politics, Gender, and Ritual in the New Territories. Hong Kong: Chinese University Press, 2004. Pp. 423-441.


Weggel, Oskar, "Sektenunruhen in Beijing: Symptome einer heraufziehenden Bürgergesellschaft?" China aktuell, vol.28, April 1999, pp.369-377.


Weller, Robert P., "Matricidal Magistrates and Gambling Gods. Weak States and Strong Spirits in China." Australian Journal of Chinese Affairs 33(1995):107-124. (Same article in: Shahar, Meir & Robert P. Weller [eds.], Unruly Gods: Divinity and Society in China. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press, 1996. Pp.250-268)


Weller, Robert P. & Peter Bol, "From Heaven-and Earth to Nature: Chinese Concepts of the Environment and Their Influence on Policy Implementation." In: Mary Evelyn Tucker & John Berthrong [eds.], Confucianism and Ecology: The Interrelation of Heaven, Earth, and Humans. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Center for the Study of World Religions, 1998. Pp.313-341.


Weller, Robert P., Alternate Civilities: Democracy and Culture in China and Taiwan. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999 (See chapter 5: "Religion: Local Association and Split Market Cultures")


Weller, Robert P., "Bandits, Beggars, and Ghosts: The Failure of State Control over Religious Interpretation in Taiwan." In: Morton Klass & Maxine Weisgrau [eds.], Across the Boundaries of Belief: Contemporary Issues in the Anthropology of Religion. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1999. Pp.271-290. (Reprinted from American Ethnologist, vol.12, no.1, 1985, pp.46-61)


Weller, Robert P., "Living at the Edge: Religion, Capitalism, and the End of the Nation-State in Taiwan." Public Culture 12(2000)2: 477-498.


Weller, Robert P. "Worship, Teachings, and State Power in China and Taiwan." In: William C. Kirby [ed.], Realms of Freedom in Modern China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2004. Pp.285-314.


Weller, Robert P. “The Dynamics of Religious Philanthropy in Lukang, Chinese Taiwan.” Zongjiao renleixue / Anthropology of Religion 3 (2011): 246-264.


Weller, Robert. “Beyond Globalization and Secularization: Changing Religion and Philanthropy in Lukang, Taiwan.” In Globalization and the Making of Religious Modernity in China: Transnational Religions, Local Agents, and the Study of Religion, 1800-Present, edited by Thomas Jansen, Thoralf Klein, and Christian Meyer, 136-155. Leiden: Brill, 2014.

Wessinger, Catherine, "Falun Gong Symposium: Introduction and Glossary." Nova religio 6(2003)2: 215-222.


Wilson, Thomas A. [ed.], On Sacred Grounds: Culture, Society, Politics, and the Formation of the Cult of Confucius. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Asia Center, distributed by Harvard University Press, 2002. Harvard East Asian Monographs, 217.


Wong, John, The Mystery of Falun Gong: Its Rise and Fall in China. Singapore: East Asian Institute, National University of Singapore, 1999. (EAI Background Brief, no. 39)


Wu, Ka-ming. Reinventing Chinese Tradition: The Cultural Politics of Late Socialism. Urbana, IL: University of Illinois Press, 2015.

Abstract: The final destination of the Long March and center of the Chinese Communist Party's red bases, Yan'an acquired mythical status during the Maoist era. Though the city's significance as an emblem of revolutionary heroism has faded, today's Chinese still glorify Yan'an as a sanctuary for ancient cultural traditions. Ka-ming Wu's ethnographic account of contemporary Yan'an documents how people have reworked the revival of three rural practices--paper-cutting, folk storytelling, and spirit cults--within (and beyond) the socialist legacy. Moving beyond dominant views of Yan'an folk culture as a tool of revolution or object of market reform, Wu reveals how cultural traditions become battlegrounds where conflicts among the state, market forces, and intellectuals in search of an authentic China play out. At the same time, she shows these emerging new dynamics in the light of the ways rural residents make sense of rapid social change. (Source: publisher's website)


Wu Junqing. "Words and Concepts in Chinese Religious Denunciation: A Study of the Genealogy of xiejiao." Chinese Historical Review 23, no.1 (2016): 1-22 .

Abstract: This paper is devoted to the genealogy of the term “evil teaching” (xiejiao), a Qing label for heretical lay religious groups who were stereotyped as practising black magic, spreading messianic messages and as inherently rebellious. Our modern understanding of the term xiejiao is based on its late imperial use, but in fact its meaning changed greatly over time, in ways that reflect the changing state perception of lay religion. This evolution has been overlooked by many late imperial and modern scholars. As a result they project their contemporary perception of lay religion onto the earlier periods. Here I would like to correct this anachronism, uncovering a more complex and varying history. (Source: journal)


Wu, Junqing. Mandarins and Heretics: The Construction of “Heresy” in Chinese State Discourse. Leiden: Brill, 2017.

Abstract: In Mandarins and Heretics, Wu Junqing explores the denunciation and persecution of lay religious groups in late imperial (14th to 20th century) China. These groups varied greatly in their organisation and teaching, yet in official state records they are routinely portrayed as belonging to the same esoteric tradition, stigmatised under generic labels such as “White Lotus” and “evil teaching”, and accused of black magic, sedition and messianic agitation. Wu Junqing convincingly demonstrates that this “heresy construct” was not a reflection of historical reality but a product of the Chinese historiographical tradition, with its uncritical reliance on official sources. The imperial heresy construct remains influential in modern China, where it contributes to shaping policy towards unlicensed religious groups. (Source: publisher's website)


Wu, Junqing. "The Fang La Rebellion and the Song Anti-Heresy Discourse." Journal of Chinese Religions 45, no.1 (2017): 19-37.

Abstract: Students of Chinese history are familiar with the fact that during the Ming (1368–1644) and Qing (1644–1911) lay religious groups outside of clerical control were denounced under a number of labels including “evil teaching” (xiejiao) and “White Lotus teaching” (bailianjiao). Regardless of their actual origins and teachings, these groups were assimilated to one and the same esoteric tradition and assumed, often on little evidence, to practice black magic, propagate messianic teachings, and to be a potential focus of rebellion. They were punished under certain laws created specifically for this purpose. I term this set of perceptions and practices the “heresy construct” to designate the fact that it was an expression of official mentality rather than a reflection of socio-religious realities. Less well-known is the fact that the heresy construct had already assumed its immature but still recognizable shape in the Song (960–1279). The Fang La rebellion of 1121–1122 marks one of its earliest appearances in the historical records. This article focuses on narratives of the Fang La event. The Fang La rebellion was portrayed as a prototypical “heretic rebellion” in later historiography. But this was not the case in the eyes of contemporaries. I reconstruct the transmission of narratives about the Fang La rebellion to show that its heretical status and magical overtones were a later accretion, due largely to literati embroidery. The same is true of many other reputedly “heretical” rebellions in Chinese history. The literati writing was later incorporated in the “grand narrative” of state history, steering official attitudes in the direction of greater intolerance towards heretics. (Source: journal)

Xiao, Gongqin; Yow, Cheun Hoe, tr., "The Falun Gong and Its Conflicts with the Chinese Government: A Perspective of Social Transformation." In: Wang Gungwu & Zheng Yongnian [eds.], Damage Control: The Chinese Communist Party in the Jiang Zemin Era. Singapore: Eastern Universities Press, 2003. Pp. 64-80.


Xiao, Hongyan. "Falun Gong and the Ideological Crisis of the Chinese Communist Party: Marxist Atheism vs. Vulgar Theism." East Asia: An International Quarterly 19(2001)1-2: 123-143.


Xie, Frank Tian & Tracey Zhu, "Ancient Wisdom for Modern Predicaments: the Truth, Deceit, and Issues Surrounding Falun Gong." Cultic Studies Review (Online) 3(2004)1. http://www.culticstudiesreview.org/


Xie, Zhibin. Religious Diversity and Public Religion in China. Aldershot: Ashgate, 2006.

Abstract: This book addresses the issue of public religion and its implications in Chinese society. Zhibin Xie explores various normative considerations concerning the appropriate role of religion in public political life in a democratic culture. Besides drawing on the theoretical discourse on religion in the public sphere from Western academics, it holds that the issue of religion in Chinese politics should be addressed by paying attention to characteristics of religious diversity and its political context in China. This leads to a position of "liberal-constrained public religion" in China, which encourages religious contribution to the public sphere as a substantial component of religious liberty in China on the one hand and proposes some constraints both upon government and religions for regulating religious political discourse on the other. [Source: Publisher's website.]


Xu, Jian, "Body, Discourse, and the Cultural Politics of Contemporary Chinese Qigong." Journal of Asian Studies 58 (1999) 4: 961-991.


Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui, "Putting Global Capitalism in Its Place: Economic Hybridity, Bataille, and Ritual Expenditure." Current Anthropology 41(2000)4: 477-509. (Note: On ritual economy of modern Wenzhou, Zhejiang Province.)


Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui, "Spatial Struggles: Postcolonial Complex, State Disenchantment, and Popular Reappropriation of Space in Rural Southeast China." Journal of Asian Studies 63(2004)3: 719-755.


You, Ziying. "Conflicts over Local Beliefs: 'Feudal Superstitions' as Intangible Cultural Heritage in Contemporary China." Asian Ethnology 79, no. 1 (2020): 137–159.

Abstract: This article addresses conflicts over local beliefs in both discourse and practice in contemporary China, especially in the process of protecting local beliefs as China's national intangible cultural heritage (ICH) in the twenty-first century. These local beliefs were stigmatized as "feudal superstitions" in revolutionary China and were revived in public since the reform era started in 1978. With influence from UNESCO, the project to protect ICH has spread all over China since 2004, and many local beliefs are promoted as China's national ICH. Drawing on my ethnographic case study of "receiving aunties (Ehuang and Nüying)" in Hongtong County, Shanxi Province, I argue that the categories of "superstition" and ICH are both disempowering and empowering, and the new naming should allow for more space for local communities to achieve social equity and justice.


Yu, Anthony C., "On State and Religion in China: A Brief Historical Reflection." Religion East & West 3(2003): 1-20.


Yu, Anthony C. State and Religion in China: Historical and Textual Perspective. Chicago & LaSalle, IL: Open Court, 2005.

Abstract: In State and Religion in China, Anthony Yu takes a fresh look at Chinese religion and its relation to politics. He argues, against those who claim that Chinese politics has been traditionally secular, or even that the Chinese traditionally had no religion, that religion has deep roots in the Chinese past, and that the Chinese state has from its creation always interfered in religious matters.

Professor Yu criticizes the common western view that ancestor worship was merely an exaggerated form of respect for the departed, and shows that it was a genuine manifestation of religion devotion. Both Daoism and Buddhism presented challenges to traditional religion, and both at times have been brutally persecuted by the Chinese state.

With its highly specific concept of "normal religion," the present Chinese government is "using religion to police and regulate religion," just as Chinese governments have done for millennia. If western commentators fail to understand this, their attempts at dialogue with Chinese rulers will be fruitless.


Yu, Haiqing, "The New Living-room War: Media Campaigns and Falun Gong." In: Robert Cribb [ed.], Asia Examined: Proceedings of the 15th Biennial Conference of the ASAA, 2004, Canberra, Australia. http://coombs.anu.edu.au/ASAA/conference/proceedings/Yu-H-ASAA2004.pdf


Yu, Zhejun. "Volksreligion im Spiegel der Zivilgesellschaftstheorie: Gottbegrüßungsprozession in Shanghai während der Republikzeit." Doctoral dissertation, University of Leipzig, Germany, 2010. Download here.

Abstract: Gottbegrüßungsprozession (????, oder Gottempfangsprozession) ist die eines der wichtigsten volksreligiösen Rituale, die zu den bedeutendsten Zeremonien des Religionslebens des chinesischen Volks zählen dürften. Der Ausgangspunkt meiner Forschung ist die 1995 veröffentlichte Studie Demon Hordes and Burning Boats: The Cult of Marshall Wen in Late Imperial Chekiang von Paul Katz, in der „Zivilgesellschaft und Volksreligion“ zum ersten Mal in der Forschung über die chinesische Kultur thematisiert. Um Katz’ Schwächen in der Studie zum Marschall Wen - sowohl an Quellen als auch in Theorie - auszugleichen, folgen ich in meiner Arbeit vertiefend zwei Grundlinien und damit sie grob in zwei Teile teilen, nämlich einen theoretischen und einen empirischen Teil. Im theoretischen Teil müssen zwei Fragen beantwortet: Was ist Zivilgesellschaft? Wie könnte die Zivilgesellschaftstheorie für diese religionswissenschaftliche Forschung nützlich sein? Um eine präzise Arbeitsdefinition geben und eine operationalisierbare Fragestellung aufstellen zu können, verfolge ich zunächst im ersten Teil die Begriffsgeschichte von „Zivilgesellschaft“ und „Öffentlichkeit“ im abendländischen Kontext zurück. Ein dreieckiges Problemfeld zwischen Staat, Privatsphäre und Ökonomie, zwei Ansätze der Zivilgesellschaftstheorie (der analytisch-deskriptive und der Idealistisch-präskriptive) werden zusammengefasst. Sieben Merkmale (öffentliche Assoziationen, Autonomie, Pluralität, Legalität, zivilisiertes Verhalten und utopisches Potenzial) und sechs Modelle (Das Trennungs-, Oppositions-, Öffentlichkeits-, Unterstützungs-, Partnerschaftsmodell und die globale Zivilgesellschaft) werden in der Forschung angeführt. Anschließend setze ich mich mit der Zivilgesellschaftsdiskussion im chinesischen Kontext auseinander. Aus der „Modern China Debate“ in den U. S. A. und der daran angeschlossenen chinesischen Diskussion wird eine Bilanz gezogen. Die „teleologische Annahme“ und der „China-Hat(te)-Auch-Komplex“ werden herausgefunden, die in einer historischen Forschung nicht legitimierbar sind. Danach wird die bisherige Erörterung über die Beziehung zwischen Zivilgesellschaft und Religion kurz zusammengefasst. Zum Ende des theoretischen Teils beschließe ich auf den idealistisch-präskriptiven Ansatzes zu verzichten. Die Zivilgesellschaftstheorie als Idealtypus im Weberschen Sinn benutzt, um die Kulturbedeutung der volksreligiösen Feste in China zu erkennen. Besonders die Organisation und die politische Auseinandersetzung der Prozession sollen in Betrachtung der Zivilgesellschaftstheorie gezogen werden, um die chinesische Gesellschaft besser zu verstehen. Im empirischen Teil der Arbeit werden Regionalbeschreibungen, Archivakten und Zeitungsartikel als Hauptquelle benutzt. Weil bisher keine systematische Forschung im Bereich der Religionswissenschaft zur Gottbegrüßungsprozession vorliegt, wird zuerst eine ausführliche Einführung in die Prozessionen in China gegeben, um ein zuverlässiges Bild von den Prozessionen innerhalb der chinesischen Religionslandschaft entwerfen zu können. Die Etymologie, die Arbeitsdefinition und die kosmologische Ordnung hinter der Prozession werden anschließend vorgestellt. Ich schlage vor, die Prozession als das Kennzeichen der kommunalen Religion Chinas anzusehen. Durch einige Sammelbände zur Folklore in China wird dann deutlich belegt, dass zahlreiche Gottbegrüßungsprozessionen ab Anfang der Qing-Zeit bis in die Republikzeit hinein kontinuierlich in fast allen Provinzen Chinas stattfanden. Danach werden die gesetzlichen Verbote in der Kaiserzeit dargestellt. Die Forschungsgeschichte zur Prozession und deren Problematik werden daraufhin zusammengefasst. Nachdem die Grundform bzw. die alternativen Formen, der Aufbau des Umzugs, Gottheiten, Dauer und Häufigkeit der Prozessionen in einem weiter begrenzten geographischen Raum, nämlich dem heutigen Shanghai, und zeitlich Raum, nämlich der Republikzeit (1912-49), dargestellt werden, werden die Haltung der Regierung und die mediale Präsentation solcher Prozessionen während der Republikzeit rekonstruiert, um die potenzielle Spannung zwischen dem Staat und den religiösen Gemeinschaften als eine der wichtigsten kollektiven Einstellungen zur Prozession zu zeigen. Die Zwischenfälle in der Nachbarregion werden wiedergegeben. Sodann werden drei detailreiche historische Fallbeispiele stichprobenartig angeführt und analysiert, um die weitere Behandlung der Fragestellung empirisch zu untermauern. Das erste historische Fallbeispiel ist der Stadtgott-Inspektionsrundgang. In diesem Fallbeispiel werden besonders die Finanzierung, die Aktivisten und Organisationen berücksichtigt, um ein Licht auf die Durchführung und Verwaltung der Prozessionen zu werfen. Darüber hinaus werden die Streite, Auseinandersetzungen und Konflikte zwischen den lokalen Behörden und dem Aufsichtsrat des Stadtgotttempels beleuchtet, um deren Verläufe, Hintergründe und Ursachen zu erforschen. Das zweite Fallbeispiel handelt sich um die Prozessionen und die Konflikte in Pudong von 1919 bis 1935. Die Verbote, die Gegenmaßnahmen der Regierung und die Verstöße gegen das Prozessionsverbot werden ausführlich geschildert, um die tatsächliche Ursachen der Konflikte zu finden. Zum Schluss des Kapitels wird die Polizei als Beispiel der damaligen Staatsmacht analysiert. Das dritte Fallbeispiel ist die Prozession im Dorf Jiangwan. Im Jahr 1935 wurde die dortige Prozession von der lokalen Feuerwehr schikaniert. Die Nachwirkung und die direkte Einmischung der Parteidirektion werden auch detailreich dargelegt. In der Schlussfolgerung der Arbeit werden die Beteiligten der Prozession in drei Gruppen, nämlich den Schaulustigen, den Aktivisten, den Unterstützer und die Förderer, eingeteilt. Ihre unterschiedlichen Funktionen und Motivationen getrennt zusammengefasst. Die andere Partei, die Kontrolleure der Prozession, wird anschließend behandelt. Alle historischen Beschreibungen werden im Spiegel der Zivilgesellschaftstheorie, v. a. der sieben Merkmale und sechs Modelle, evaluiert. Außerdem bringe ich zwei Einwände gegen die Dichotomie von C. K. Yang vor.


Yuan, I, "Center and Periphery--Cultural Identity and Localism of the Southern Chinese Peasantry." Issues and Studies 32(1996)6: 1-36.


Zhao Shiyu. “Town and Country Representation as Seen in Temple Fairs.” In: David Faure & Tao Tao Liu [eds.], Town and Country in China: Identity and Perception. Houndmills & New York: Palgrave, 2002. Pp.41-57.


Zhao, Xudong and Duran Bell. “Miaohui, the Temples Meeting Festival in North China.” China Information 21.3 (2007): 457-479.

Abstract: We examine the multiple purposes and modalities that converge during a circuit of festivals, miaohui, which temples organize in recognition of local gods and which are attended reciprocally by temple representatives from the surrounding area in North China. The festivals involve intense expressions of devotion to one or more deities, while offering an opportunity for representatives of other villages to seek recognition through rather boisterous drumming and prolonged choreographed dancing. We note also the emergence of Mao as a great god whose legacy as Chairman of the CCP is projected in order to legitimate current Party leadership and their policy of reform while concurrently acting as a powerful denial of those same policies from the perspective of villagers. [Source: journal]


Zhao, Yuzhong. “Remaking Social boundaries: the Construction of Benzhu Worship in Southwest China.” Asian Ethnicity 17, no.3 (2016): 480-495.

Abstract: In the historical transformation of the state, benzhu worship in the Erhai lake basin, northwest Yunnan, an esoteric Buddhist practice developed in the period of Nanzhao Kingdom, has been continually reconstructed by the state and local agencies. As a result, social boundaries between the Han Chinese and the ethnic ‘others’ living in this multi-ethnic southwestern frontier of China have been constantly remade. This paper, through a review of the state’s interpretations and local agencies’ negotiations and contentions of the meaning and practice of the worship, is mainly intended to revisit the social and cultural consequences incurred by the transformation of the state, and highlight, among other things, how local agencies, average villagers in particular, have cautiously yet ingeniously exercised their agency since the 1950s by appropriating or recasting national and international discourses on ethnicity and diversity to serve their own ends. (Source: journal)


Zhou, Qin, "The Cult of Worthies: Localization and Centralization in Ming Dynasty Jinhua." Papers on Chinese History 4(1995): 65-90.


Zhuang, Yingzhang (Chuang Ying-chang), "God Cults and Their Credit Associations in Taiwan." In: Leo Douw & Peter Post [eds.], South China: State, Culture and Social Change during the 20th Century. (Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, Verhandelingen, Afd. Letterkunde, Nieuwe Reeks, deel 169) Amsterdam: North-Holland, 1996. Pp.69-76.


Zito, Angela, "City Gods and Their Magistrates." In: Lopez, Donald S., Jr. [ed.], Religions of China in Practice. Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1996. Pp.72-81.