Anderson, E.N. “Meeting the Goddess: Religion, Morality, and Medicine in a Fishing Community in Hong Kong Forty Years ago.” In: Deepak Shimkhada & Phyllis K. Herman [eds.], The Constant and Changing Faces of the Goddess: Goddess Traditions of Asia. Newcastle: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2008. Pp. 122-134.


Arrault, Alain. "Analytic Essay on the Domestic Statuary of Central Hunan: The Cult to Divinities, Parents, and Masters." Journal of Chinese Religions 36 (2008): 1-53.


Arrault, Alain & Michela Bussotti. "Statuettes religieuses et certificats de consécration en Chine du Sud (XVIIe-XXe siècle)." Arts asiatiques 63 (2008): 36-59.


Baptandier, Brigitte; translated by Kristin Ingrid Fryklund. The Lady of Linshui: A Chinese Female Cult. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Abstract: This anthropological study examines the cult of the Chinese goddess Chen Jinggu, divine protector of women and children. The cult of the "Lady of Linshui" began in the province of Fujian on the southeastern coast of China during the eleventh century and remains vital in present-day Taiwan. Skilled in Daoist practices, Chen Jinggu's rituals of exorcism and shamanism mobilize physiological alchemy in the service of human and natural fertility. Through her fieldwork at the Linshuima temple in Tainan (Taiwan) and her analysis of the narrative and symbolic aspects of legends surrounding the Lady of Linshui, Baptandier provides new insights into Chinese representations of the feminine and the role of women in popular religion. [Source: publisher's website]


Baptandier, Brigitte. "La Biographie de la Mère, Nainiang zhuan: La tablette à écriture." In Baptandier, Brigitte & Giodrana Charuty [eds.], Du corps au texte: approches comparatives. Nanterre: Société d’ethnologie, 2008. Pp. 111-149.


Brereton, Brian G. “Addressing Enduring Ethnocentricities through a Critical Investigation of the Historiography of Chinese Hell.” Critical Studies in History 1 (2008): 2-26.


Bussotti, Michela & Alain Arrault. "Statuaria popolare cinese: le sculture lignee dell'Hunan centrale e la collezione del Museo provinciale." DecArt 9 (2008): 2-13.


Capitanio, Joshua. “Dragon Kings and Thunder Gods: Rainmaking, Magic, and Ritual in Medieval Chinese Religion.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 2008.

Abstract: This dissertation demonstrates that the application of ritual methods to ensure timely rainfall was an important element of religious Practice in China from antiquity through the medieval period. Drawing on a broad range of sources, I show how rainmaking ritual, performed by kings, emperors, priests, and ritual specialists, continued to develop from its roots in the earliest recorded forms of Chinese religion. As religious beliefs underwent significant change in ancient and medieval China, the importance of rainmaking persisted, even as its techniques were re-imagined by successive generations of ritual practitioners, particularly within the developing traditions of Buddhism and Daoism. Thus, this study provides an opportunity to observe the evolution of a particular ritual practice across a broad span of time and a wide spectrum of religious beliefs and social contexts. Furthermore, this study shows that activities such as rainmaking, in which practitioners attempt, through the use of various ritual forms, to harness extra-human or supernatural forces for the purpose of effecting, some sort of beneficial change, constituted a fundamental aspect of Chinese religion. While such practices are often deemed by scholars as belonging to the category of "magic," I argue against such a designation in this dissertation.


Chan, Hok-lam. Legends of the Building of Old Peking. Hong Kong: The Chinese University Press; Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2008.

Abstract: Legends of the Building of Old Peking examines a series of popular legends surrounding the building and rebuilding of the city that served as the capital of a succession of dynasties, including the Nazha or Nezha City legend of the Yuan (1279-1368) "Great Capital" and the Ming (1368-1644) "Northern Capital," and the Mongol legend of "siting by bowshot to locate the capital city" and its Chinese adaptations. These legends reveal a rich tapestry of religious and cultural traditions surrounding the majority Han and non-Han people's conceptions of the origins of their capital cities-legends that are distinct from imperial ideologies and dynastic traditions, and evolved under changing political and cultural circumstances. The book is a unique study of the historical origins of old Peking (spelled thus to distinguish it from modern Beijing) as well as the genesis and efflorescence of related popular culture in today's capital. [Source: publisher's website]


Cheung, Neky Tak-Ching. Women’s Ritual in China: Jiezhu (Receiving Buddhist Prayer Beads) Performed by Menopausal Women in Ninghua, Western Fujian. Lewiston, NY: The Edwin Mellen Press, 2008.


Clart, Philip. “The Relationship of Myth and Cult in Chinese Popular Religion: Some Remarks on Han Xiangzi.” Xingda zhongwen xuebao 23 (2008): 479-513. (Supplementary issue, zengkan)


Cohen, Erik. “Kuan To: The Vegetarian Festival in a Peripheral Southern Thai Shrine.” In: Pattana Kitiarsa [ed.], Religious Commodifications in Asia: Marketing Gods. London: Routledge, 2008. Pp.68-88.


Cowan, Douglas E.; Rebecca Moore. "The First International Symposium on Cultic Studies, Shenzhen, China." Nova Religio 12.2 (2008): 121-130.


DeBernardi, Jean. “Commodifying Blessings: Celebrating the Double-Yang Festival in Penang, Malaysia, and Wudang Mountain, China.” In: Pattana Kitiarsa [ed.], Religious Commodifications in Asia: Marketing Gods. London: Routledge, 2008. Pp.49-67.


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


Durand-Dastès, Vincent. La Conversion de l’Orient: une pérégrination didactique de Bodhidharma. (Mélanges chinois et bouddhiques XXIX). Brussels: Institut Belge des Hautes Études Chinoises, 2008.

Abstract: La figure de Bodhidharma, le mythique fondateur du bouddhisme Chan (Zen), n'a cessé d'être inventée et réinventée à travers toute l'Asie orientale, de l'époque médiévale à nos jours. Prenant pour point de départ un moment bien précis de cette histoire, la Chine de la fin des Ming, l'ouvrage évoque les premières hagiographies en langue vulgaire consacrées au religieux, avant d'analyser un roman fleuve publié à Suzhou en 1635 et intitulé « La Conversion de l'Orient ». Cette pérégrination vers l'est du patriarche indien dépeint un Bodhidharma qui, loin d'incarner la radicalité religieuse souvent prêtée au Chan, se fait le héraut des valeurs confucéennes les plus conformistes. Le saint bonze devient, au fil de ce récit, le pivot autour duquel gravitent humains égarés, démons tentateurs, esprits animaux, maîtres de pratiques religieuses et quêteurs de perfection. Le bouddhisme, bien que relativisé par sa mise en perspective comme un des « Trois enseignements » (bouddhisme, taoïsme, confucianisme) occupe néanmoins une place centrale dans le roman : les techniques de méditation propagées par le Chan, le respect bouddhique de la vie animale et sa conséquence diététique, le végétarisme, y occupent une place de choix qui montre la profonde pénétration de ces thèmes et pratiques dans la société chinoise du temps. La « Conversion de l'Orient », au carrefour de la littérature didactique et du genre alors en vogue du roman en langue vulgaire, s'emploie à concilier les besoins de l'édification et ceux de la composition d'un récit fantastique de longue haleine. L'identification de ses sources et influences et la reconstitution détaillée de son histoire éditoriale permettent de mieux comprendre le statut social, culturel et religieux de l'écriture narrative en Chine à la veille des temps modernes. On trouvera en annexe la traduction d'un large extrait de l'œuvre originale. [Source: publisher's website]


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.


Feuchtwang, Stephan. "Suggestions for a Redefinition of Charisma." Nova Religio 12.2 (2008): 90-105.


Friedrich, Michael. "The 'Announcement to the World Below' of Ma-wang-tui 3." manuscript cultures newsletter No.1 (2008): 7-15.


Giuffrida, Noelle. “Representing the Daoist God Zhenwu, the Perfected Warrior, in Late Imperial China.” Ph.D. dissertation, University of Kansas, 2008.

Abstract: Zhenwu, the Perfected Warrior, emerged as an anthropomorphic deity in the early Northern Song (960-1126) and reached the peak of his popularity in the Ming (1368-1644). Prior to this time he was known as Xuanwu, the Dark Warrior, and appeared as a tortoise entwined with a snake. Widely varying representations of this Daoist god, one of the most prominent in the Daoist pantheon, coexisted throughout the Song and later history of his cult. Different images fashioned to serve different audiences reveal the wide social range of Zhenwu believers and shifting beliefs about the god's powers. Literary evidence combines with the ubiquitous pictorial and three-dimensional images to demonstrate Zhenwu's pervasive presence in the religious and cultural landscape. A scripture, sets of ritual scrolls, pictorial stele, cave temple, and an album depicting a corps of thunder marshals affiliate Zhenwu with the Daoist Thunder Department and with certain of its members, notably the Four Saints ( si sheng ). Zhenwu also appears in Daoist and Buddhist assembly paintings, murals and scroll sets, linked to performances of the huanglu zhai [purgation rite of the yellow register] and the shuilu fahui [rite for deliverance of creatures of water and land]. Fervent Yuan and Ming imperial patronage of the god's home, Mt. Wudang, gives evidence of Zhenwu's emergence as an independent deity with a cadre of assistant martial divinities. Many Ming statues represent his role as a tutelary god and his participation in the pantheon of Chinese popular religion. Ming illustrations of his hagiography in a woodblock-printed collection of stories, a canonical Daoist scripture, a painted album, a complex piece of sculpture, and an edition of the vernacular novel Beiyou ji [Journey to the North] indicate the appeal of specific episodes of his life story and show how they were adapted for different audiences. Through interdisciplinary analysis of the literary, historical, social, and religious contexts of key Zhenwu images, this case study demonstrates the extent to which Daoist imagery permeated the visual culture of late imperial China.


Goossaert, Vincent. "Mapping Charisma among Chinese Religious Specialists." Nova Religio 12.2 (2008): 12-28.


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. "Espace et temps sacrés: les temples." In Le sacré en Chine, ed. Michel Masson. (Turnhout: Brepols, 2008). Pp. 23-33 (coll. « Homo Religiosus », II).


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”).


Greene, Mark. "The Alchemical Lore of Wong Tai Sin and the Contemporary Pursuit of Transformational Wellbeing." Chinese Cross Currents 5, no.4 (2008): 90-102.


Hammond, Charles E. "What Yuan Mei Spoke of." Journal of Chinese Religions 36 (2008): 84-117.


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.


Idema, Wilt L., with an essay by Haiyan Lee. Meng Jiangnü Brings Down the Great Wall: Ten Versions of a Chinese Legend. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2008.

Abstract: Meng Jiangnu Brings Down the Great Wall brings together ten versions of a popular Chinese legend that has intrigued readers and listeners for hundreds of years. Elements of the story date back to the early centuries B.C.E. and are an intrinsic part of Chinese literary history. Major themes and subtle nuances of the legend are illuminated here by Wilt L. Idema's new translations and pairings.

In this classic story, a young woman named Meng Jiang makes a long, solitary journey to deliver winter clothes to her husband, a drafted laborer on the grandiose Great Wall construction project of the notorious First Emperor of the Qin dynasty (BCE 221-208). But her travels end in tragedy when, upon arrival, she learns that her husband has died under the harsh working conditions and been entombed in the wall. Her tears of grief cause the wall to collapse and expose his bones, which she collects for proper burial. In some versions, she tricks the lecherous emperor, who wants to marry her, into providing a stately funeral for her husband and then takes her own life.

The versions presented here are ballads and chantefables (alternating chanted verse and recited prose), five from urban printed texts from the late Imperial and early Republican periods, and five from oral performances and partially reconstructed texts collected in rural areas in recent decades. They represent a wide range of genres, regional styles, dates, and content. From one version to another, different elements of the story - the circumstances of Meng Jiangnu's marriage, her relationship with her parents-in-law, the journey to the wall, her grief, her defiance of the emperor - are elaborated upon, downplayed, or left out altogether depending on the particular moral lessons that tale authors wished to impart.

Idema brings together his considerable translation skills and broad knowledge of Chinese literature to present an assortment of tales and insightful commentary that will be a gold mine of information for scholars in a number of disciplines. Haiyan Lee's essay discusses the appeal of the Meng Jiangnu story to twentieth-century literary reformers, and the interpretations they imposed on the material they collected. [Source: publisher's website]


Idema, Wilt L. Personal Salvation and Filial Piety: Two Precious Scroll Narratives of Guanyin and Her Acolytes. Honolulu: Kuroda Institute & University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008.

Abstract: The Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara was a handsome prince when he entered China. As Guanyin, the bodhisattva was venerated from the eleventh century onward in the shape of a beautiful woman who became a universal savior. Throughout the last millennium, the female Guanyin has enjoyed wide and fervid veneration throughout East Asia and has appeared as a major character in literature and legend. In one tale, Guanyin (as the princess Miaoshan) returns from the dead after being executed by the king, her father, for refusing to marry. The most popular version of this legend is The Precious Scroll of Incense Mountain (Xiangshan baojuan), a long narrative in prose and verse and a work of considerable literary merit. It emphasizes the conflict between father and daughter, in the course of which all conventional arguments against a religious lifestyle are paraded and rebutted. A lengthy description of Guanyin’s visit to the underworld, which focuses on the conflict between grace and justice, is also included.

Personal Salvation and Filial Piety offers a complete and fully annotated translation of The Precious Scroll, based on a nineteenth-century edition. The translation is preceded by a substantial introduction that discusses the origin of the text and the genre to which it belongs and highlights the similarities and differences between the scroll and female saints’ lives from medieval Europe. There follows a translation of the much-shorter Precious Scroll of Good-in-Talent and Dragon Daughter, which provides a humorous account of how Guanyin acquired the three acolytes—Sudhana, Nagakanya, and a white parrot—who are often shown surrounding her in popular prints. [Source: publisher's website]


Katz, Paul R. "Trial by Power: Some Preliminary Observations on the Judicial Roles of Taoist Martial Deities." Journal of Chinese Religions 36 (2008): 54-83.


Kuah-Pearce, Khun Eng. "Vom chinesischen religiösen Synkretismus zum Reformbuddhismus: Religiöse Modernisierung in Singapur." In Religionsinterne Kritik und religiöser Pluralismus im gegenwärtigen Südostasien, ed. by Manfred Hutter. Frankfurt am Main; New York: Lang, 2008. Pp. 83-100.


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. "'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.


Kravchuk, L.A.; Walker, James E., tr. "Activity of the Chinese Religious Movement Falun Gong in Russia." Anthropology & Archeology of Eurasia 46.3 (2007-2008): 36-50.

Lee, Anru. “Women of the Sisters' Hall: Religion and the Making of Women's Alternative Space in Taiwan's Economic Restructuring." Gender, Place and Culture 15.4 (2008): 373-393.

Abstract: Against the background of Taiwan's recent economic restructuring, this article investigates the lives of a group of working-class women who were believers of I-Kuan Tao, a sectarian religion, and who had by and large decided to remain single in order to better practice their religious teaching. They lived together in an I-Kuan Tao temple. This article situates singlehood in the literature of resistance and sees it as a strategy of these women seeking an alternative lifestyle from the culturally prescribed roles of wife, mother and daughter-in-law. Three interlocking factors are particularly important to an understanding of these women's experience: cultural (the Taiwanese patrilineal family), religious (I-Kuan Tao), and economic (Taiwan's post-World War II export-oriented industrialization and its recent economic restructuring). Paradoxically, while trying to establish an alternative social space, these women were also seeking cultural legitimacy for their choice. Marriage resistance, in this case, was an act of both transgression and conformity. Yet the different readings that these women and their families applied to their situations, as well as the ingenuous strategies they deployed to solve their predicaments, also added new elements to the cultural repertoire which, collectively considered, might broaden the range of options for future Taiwanese women who attempt a similar life trajectory. In this article, I therefore caution against a totalizing understanding of the concept of resistance based on its final result, but call for a more nuanced analysis focusing on the process. (Source: journal)

Lin, Wei-ping. "Conceptualizing Gods through Statues: A Study of Personification and Localization in Taiwan." Comparative Studies in Society and History 50.2 (2008): 454-477.


Lu, Weijing. True to Her Word: The Faithful Maiden Cult in Late Imperial China. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2008.

Abstract: This path-breaking book examines the broad cultural, social, and gender meanings of the "faithful maiden" cult in late imperial China (1368–1911). Across the empire, an increasing number of young women or "faithful maidens," defied their parents' wishes and chose either to live out their lives as widows upon the death of a fiancé or killed themselves to join their fiancé in death. The book analyzes the familial conflicts, government policies, ideological controversies, and personal emotions surrounding the cult. Concentrating on the dramatic acts of spirit wedding and suicide, the faithful maidens' unique code of conduct, and the extraordinary life journey of "virgin mothers," Lu documents the ideological, psychological, cultural, and economic aspects of these young women's mentality and behavior, and the implications of this behavior for their families and the broader society. The book's narrative of the faithful maiden cult interweaves late imperial political, cultural, social and intellectual history, thus, providing a new window onto the history of the late imperial period. [Source: publisher's website]


Lu Yunfeng, Byron Johnson, Rodney Stark. "Deregulation and the Religious Market in Taiwan: A Research Note." The Socological Quarterly 49 (2008): 139-153.


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]


Madsen, Richard. “Religious Renaissance and Taiwan’s Modern Middle Classes.” In: Mayfair Mei-hui Yang [ed.], Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Modernity and State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Pp. 295-322.


McLaren, Anne E. Performing Grief: Bridal Laments in Rural China. Honolulu: University of Hawai‘i Press, 2008.

Abstract: This is the first in-depth study of Chinese bridal laments, a ritual and performative art practiced by Chinese women in premodern times that gave them a rare opportunity to voice their grievances publicly. Drawing on methodologies from numerous disciplines, including performance arts and folk literatures, the author suggests that the ability to move an audience through her lament was one of the most important symbolic and ritual skills a Chinese woman could possess before the modern era.
    Performing Grief provides a detailed case study of the Nanhui region in the lower Yangzi delta. Bridal laments, the author argues, offer insights into how illiterate Chinese women understood the kinship and social hierarchies of their region, the marriage market that determined their destinies, and the value of their labor in the commodified economy of the delta region. The book not only assesses and draws upon a large body of sources, both Chinese and Western, but is grounded in actual field work, offering both historical and ethnographic context in a unique and sophisticated approach. Unlike previous studies, the author covers both Han and non-Han groups and thus contributes to studies of ethnicity and cultural accommodation in China. She presents an original view about the ritual implications of bridal laments and their role in popular notions of “wedding pollution.” The volume includes an annotated translation from a lament cycle.
    This important work on the place of laments in Chinese culture enriches our understanding of the social and performative roles of Chinese women, the gendered nature of China’s ritual culture, and the continuous transmission of women’s grievance genres into the revolutionary period. As a pioneering study of the ritual and performance arts of Chinese women, it will be of interest to scholars and students in the fields of anthropology, social history, gender studies, oral literature, comparative folk religion, and performance arts. [Source: publisher's website]


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.


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]

Ownby, David. "In Search of Charisma: The Falun Gong Diaspora." Nova Religio 12.2 (2008): 106-120.


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.


Palmer, David A. "Embodying Utopia: Charisma in the post-Mao Qigong Craze." Nova Religio 12.2 (2008): 69-89.


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.


Peng, Mu. "Shared Practice, Esoteric Knowledge, and Bai: Envisioning the Yin World in Rural China." Ph.D. dissertation, University of Pennsylvania, 2008. 

Abstract: How do rural Chinese people practice popular religion? Without Church and institutional propagation, how do people form visions of the yin world, the Chinese spiritual world that is the opposite of the yang world where we live? Based upon fieldwork from 2005-2006 in Chaling County, Hunan Province, China, my dissertation explores what and how social processes and agents influence and shape formation and reproduction of religious beliefs and practices in individual and rural community. Portraying how daily life practices, rites of passage, and annual festival performances mold people’s mind and body, I highlight various wandering ritual specialists, who, as ordinary villagers as well as itinerants, shape and are shaped by local tradition. Centering upon how beliefs and practices are reproduced on the ground, my dissertation touches upon wider issues in the study of religion in general and Chinese popular religion in particular. Religion, belief, and ancestor worship are all modern Western categories. What are the Chinese sense of religion, worship, and belief and believing—at least in one place and time? I invoke the local term bai to shed light on the sense of doing religion. On the one hand, bai refers to concrete bodily movements that embody respect and awe, such as bowing, kneeling, or holding up offerings on ritual occasions. On the other hand, villagers not only use bai as a generic term to generalize ritual worship, but also to characterize their religious inclinations and practices. In this sense, my dissertation is an ethnography of bai, of how cultural and social practices cultivate people to bai appropriately and to envisage the yin world at the same time. Religious practices, I argue, instill into people beliefs and ways of doing religion, and deeply engrain visions of the yin world in the acting body and mind as a whole. Religion is not simply a matter of belief. Using case studies in rural China, I aim to offer an ethnographic critique that demonstrates the possibility of religion as a way, as a repertoire, for people to negotiate and come to terms with the dread and desires of life and death. (Source: dissertation)


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.


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]


Standaert, Nicolas. The Interweaving of Rituals: Funerals in the Cultural Exchange between China and Europe. Seattle, WA: University of Washington Press, 2008.

Abstract: The death of the Italian Jesuit Matteo Ricci in China in 1610 was the occasion for demonstrations of European rituals appropriate for a Catholic priest and also of Chinese rituals appropriate to the country hosting the Jesuit community. Rather than burying Ricci immediately in a plain coffin near the church, according to their European practice, the Jesuits followed Chinese custom and kept Ricci's body for nearly a year in an air-tight Chinese-style coffin and asked the emperor for burial ground outside the city walls. Moreover, at Ricci's funeral itself, on their own initiative the Chinese performed their funerary rituals, thus starting a long and complex cultural dialogue in which they took the lead during the next century.

The Interweaving of Rituals explores the role of ritual - specifically rites related to death and funerals - in cross-cultural exchange, demonstrating a gradual interweaving of Chinese and European ritual practices at all levels of interaction in seventeenth-century China. This includes the interplay of traditional and new rituals by a Christian community of commoners, the grafting of Christian funerals onto established Chinese practices, and the sponsorship of funeral processions for Jesuit officials by the emperor. Through careful observation of the details of funerary practice, Nicolas Standaert illustrates the mechanics of two-way cultural interaction. His thoughtful analysis of the ritual exchange between two very different cultural traditions is especially relevant in today's world of global ethnic and religious tension. His insights will be of interest to a broad range of scholars, from historians to anthropologists to theologians. [Source: publisher's website]


Strassberg, Richard E. [trsl]. Wandering Spirits: Chen Shiyuan’s Encyclopedia of Dreams. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008.

Abstract: Dreams have been taken seriously in China for at least three millennia. Wandering Spirits is a translation and study of the most comprehensive work on dream culture in traditional China–Lofty Principles of Dream Interpretation (Mengzhan yizhi), compiled in 1562 by Chen Shiyuan and periodically reprinted up to the modern era. The best introduction to the diversity of ideas held by the educated class about dreams, this unique treatise compiles various theories, Chen's own comments concerning the nature of dreams and their role in waking life, and almost seven hundred examples assembled from a wide range of literary sources. This annotated translation is accompanied by a full-length introduction that surveys the evolution of Chinese dream culture and the role of Chen Shiyuan and his encyclopedia. [Source: publisher's website]


Sweeney, John A. “Unearthing the God of Place: Locating Space/Place in the Discourse(s) on Tudi Gong.” East-West Connections: Review of Asian Studies 8, no.1 (2008): 11-34.


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.


Tsai, Yi-Jia. „Moving the Body, Awakening the Spirit: Mediums’ Performance of Healing, Cultivation and Salvation in Taiwan.“ Fu Jen International Religious Studies 2, no.1 (2008): 99-118.


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.


Wong Hee Kam. Guan Yu - Guan Di, héros régional, culte impérial et populaire. Sainte-Marie (Réunion): Azalées, 2008.


Yang, Mayfair Mei-hui. “Goddess across the Taiwan Strait: Matrifocal Ritual Space, Nation-State, and Satellite Television Footprints.” In: Mayfair Mei-hui Yang [ed.], Chinese Religiosities: Afflictions of Moidernity and State Formation. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2008. Pp. 323-347.


Yeung, Tuen Wai Mary. “To Entertain and Renew: Operas, Puppet Plays and Ritual in South China.” Ph.D. dissertation, The University of British Columbia, 2008.

Abstract: Operas and puppet plays have long been performed both to entertain gods and people, and to thank the gods for renewing the life forces of the community. Such performances are carried out all over China. With special attention devoted to the religious dimensions of Cantonese opera in Hong Kong and marionette theatre in western Fujian, this Ph.D. thesis is a preliminary attempt to examine the religious traditions of regional operas in south China. Supplemented by some written sources, the present study is based on face-to-face interviews with actors and puppeteers, as well as direct observations of their religious practices. The first research aim is to discuss the inseparable relationship between traditional opera and religion in China (especially the southeastern part) from the ancient periods up to the present. Important or auspicious occasions are often accompanied by puppet or/and opera performances. The second aim is to examine the beliefs and practices of actors of regional operas in south China, especially Cantonese opera players and marionettists in western Fujian, with special attention devoted to the birthday celebrations their main occupational deities. It is important to point out that no single forms of Chinese traditional opera can be classified in terms of "either-or" categories. The question is a matter of degree. Traditional literary operas contain some religious elements and ritual operas also include some literary or artistic elements. There are neither absolute traditional literary operas nor absolute ritual operas in China. The present study is concerned both with the ritual functions of operas and plays in the communities where they are performed, and with the beliefs and taboos of the performers themselves. Actors or puppeteers of both types of opera usually worship a group of deities as their occupational deities. Hence, their beliefs can be characterized as polytheistic. Moreover, the beliefs and practices of performers of various types of regional operatic genre in south China are related to some extent since the worship of Chinese theatre deities was spread from place to place by lineages, merchants and opera troupes during the imperial times.


Zhang Zong. “Comment le bodhisattva Dizang est parvenu à gouverner les Dix Rois des Enfers.” Cahiers d’Extrême-Asie 17 (2008): 265-291.