NEW PUBLICATIONS IN 2021

 

Alexander, Katherine. The Precious Scroll of Liu Xiang: Late Ming Roots and Late Qing Proliferation.” Journal of Chinese Religions 49, no. 1 (2021): 49–74.

Abstract: Though Liu Xiang baojuan 劉香寶卷 has been widely used as a source for images of women's religious lives in late imperial China, few studies have looked closely at the text on its own or its literary history and contexts. With roots in late Ming lay Buddhism, as one of the most widely reprinted baojuan in late Qing Jiangnan, to say nothing of its representation in other performance genres in Jiangnan and beyond extending into the Republican period, this story complex deserves focused study. In this article, I explore the tale's history from the late Ming through the late Qing in order to lay the groundwork for future close readings of the narrative itself.

 

Berezkin, Rostislav. “The Precious Scroll of the Blood Pond in the “Telling Scriptures” Tradition in Changshu, Jiangsu, China.” Religions 12 (2021).

 

Broy, Nikolas. "Global Dao: The Making of Transnational Yiguandao." In Chinese Religions Going Global, edited by Nanlai Cao, Giuseppe Giordan, and Fenggang Yang, 174–193. Annual Review of the Socviology of Religion, vol. 11. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

 

Chadwin, Joseph. “‘Because I am Chinese, I do not Believe in Religion’: An Ethnographic Study of the Lived Religious Experience of Chinese Immigrant Children in Vienna.” In Religion in Austria, Volume 6, edited by Hans Gerald Hödl, Astrid Mattes, and Lukas Pokorny, 1–31. Vienna: Praesens, 2021.

Chadwin, Joseph. “An Ethnographic Study of How Chinese University Students in Vienna Observed Spring Festival during Covid-19.” In Religion in Austria, Volume 6, edited by Hans Gerald Hödl, Astrid Mattes, and Lukas Pokorny, 33–66. Vienna: Praesens, 2021.

Chadwin, Joseph. “Parental Popular Religion and Filiality: An Ethnographic Study of the Religiosity of Chinese Parents in Vienna.” In Religion in Austria, Volume 6, edited by Hans Gerald Hödl, Astrid Mattes, and Lukas Pokorny, 67–112. Vienna: Praesens, 2021.


 

Chan, Selina Ching. “Heritage Conservation and Ethnic Associations: The Chaozhou Hungry Ghosts Festival in Hong Kong.” In Heritage and Religion in East Asia, edited by Shu-Li Wang, Michael Rowlands, and Yujie Zhu, 125–147. London: Routledge, 2021.

 

Chang, Hsun. “Between Religious Authenticity and Intangible Cultural Heritage: The Cult of Mazu in Taiwan, Fujian, and Hainan Island.” In Heritage and Religion in East Asia, edited by Shu-Li Wang, Michael Rowlands, and Yujie Zhu, 167–186. London: Routledge, 2021.

 

Chau, Adam Yuet. "Ritual Terroir: The Generation of Site-Specific Vitality." Archives des sciences sociales des religions, no. 193 (2021): 25–54.

Abstract: The French term "terroir" has entered the English language carrying more or less the same viticultural and culinary references. Despite its close English-language cousin "terrain" and "territory", terroir is a lot more than things having to do with the earth. It is a particular and dynamic "compositional assemblage" (Chau, 2012) of all elements that contribute to the unique qualities of a product (be it wine, foie gras or mushroom): climate, weather, topography, soil, precipitation, drainage, exposure to sunlight (duration, direction, intensity, etc.), disasters, ecology (including flora and fauna), human intervention (e.g. irrigation, fertilisers, weeding, introduction of cultivar and other bio-elements, fermentation and other procedures, craftsmanship and handling), etc. The deliberate, modern-day construction and privileging of terroir is a reaction against "soulless" mass production, against food and drink with no traceable origin because they have been industrially produced (with the help of globally-produced chemical fertilisers and feed), mixed and packaged. I propose to look at the production of power-laden religious sites through the lens of "ritual terroir", using examples from Chinese religious practices (drawn from my own fieldwork). Just like food and drink, some religious practices are extremely translocalisable and, even as they are always adapted to specific local conditions as they spread across the globe (e.g. Zen Buddhism, evangelical Christianity, Tibetan Buddhism, post-colonial and post-Cold-War Islam), many thrive precisely because of a delinking between the practices and any particular site or terroir. On the other hand, some other religious practices are resolutely spatially grounded in the production of specific religious sites and draw spiritual power from these sites. I will present the case of the Dragon King Valley (Longwanggou) in northcentral China to illustrate the workings of ritual terroir. Like all local cults, the reputation and efficacy of the Black Dragon King depend on an ensemble of site-specific features that combine geographical and human input.

 

 

Chen, Ningning; Jinwen Chen, and Kenneth Dean. „Religion in Times of Crisis: Innovative Lay Responses and Temporal-Spatial Reconfigurations of Temple Rituals in COVID-19 China.” cultural geographies 2021: 1–8.

Abstract: The COVID-19 pandemic has brought about massive changes in religious landscapes across the world. Recent research has focused on whether religions create problems or are sources of solution or support in these extraordinary times. Although some studies document religious leaders’ and institutions’ innovative responses to preserve ritual practices and foster members’ sense of belonging, they fail to highlight lay practitioners’ bottom-up religious transformations. Noting this, this article draws on the case of Lufeng city in south China to examine how local residents inventively reconfigured the temporal-spatiality of their ritual practices during temple lock-downs. Through an ethnographic-style exploration, we reveal multi-faceted spatial changes in the ritual performance, including the reconfiguration of home spaces, the performance of worship practices outside temple doors and the mobilization of digital spaces of communication to accumulate good fortune. Apart from these spatial strategies, local ritual transformation also produces temporal adaptations. Through these temporal-spatial reconfigurations, local residents innovatively cope with new social circumstances and articulate religion’s continual significance. This study foregrounds an agentive and flexible understanding of religion in times of crisis.

 

 

Cheng, Hsiao-wen. Divine, Demonic, and Disordered: Women without Men in Song Dynasty China. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2021.

Abstract: A variety of Chinese writings from the Song period (960–1279)—medical texts, religious treatises, fiction, and anecdotes—depict women who were considered peculiar because their sexual bodies did not belong to men. These were women who refused to marry, were considered unmarriageable, or were married but denied their husbands sexual access, thereby removing themselves from social constructs of female sexuality defined in relation to men. As elite male authors attempted to make sense of these women whose sexual bodies were unavailable to them, they were forced to contemplate the purpose of women’s bodies and lives apart from wifehood and motherhood. This raised troubling new questions about normalcy, desire, sexuality, and identity. In Divine, Demonic, and Disordered, Hsiao-wen Cheng considers accounts of “manless women,” many of which depict women who suffered from “enchantment disorder” or who engaged in “intercourse with ghosts”—conditions with specific symptoms and behavioral patterns. Cheng questions conventional binary gender analyses and shifts attention away from women’s reproductive bodies and familial roles. Her innovative study offers historians of China and readers interested in women, gender, sexuality, medicine, and religion a fresh look at the unstable meanings attached to women’s behaviors and lives even in a time of codified patriarchy.

 

Cheng, Hsiao-wen. “Deviant Viewers and Gendered Looks: Erotic Interactions with Images and Visual Culture in Song Popular Religion.” Journal of Chinese Religions 49, no. 1 (2021): 21–47.

Abstract: This article examines popular anecdotes about erotic responses to religious images during the Song dynasty (960–1279). It first compares three interrelated traditions in order to see different agents at work: discussions of living images in art criticism, stories about miraculous icons in religious accounts, and erotic encounters with nonhumans in tales and anecdotes. In comparison with these traditions, narratives of erotic interaction with religious images often emphasize the agency of the viewer. For cases in which images are said to have responded, the narrative often displays deliberate efforts toward justification and interpretation. This article then examines the materiality of religious imagery in Song anecdotes and compares it with the nonreligious images and objects that become jingguai 精怪 (transforming creatures). Finally, through analyzing the depiction of female beholders and their desire in anecdotes and medical treatises, this article argues that a changing discourse on female sexuality took place during the Song-Yuan period.

 

Dean, Kenneth. "Opium for the Gods: Cheang Hong Lim (1841–1893), Headman and Ritual Libationer of the Hokkien Community, Leader of the Singapore Great Opium Syndicate (1870-1882)." Archives des sciences sociales des religions, no. 193 (2021): 107–130.

Abstract: In China, as in India, ritual roles are distributed across the entire social field, rather than being confined to a religious field that is competed over in a quest for the monopolization of its powers. This essay explores the ritual roles of a leader of the Chinese diaspora in Singapore in the second half of the 19th century, drawing on stone inscriptions he wrote in several temples he built or restored, and his burial record, composed by the Chinese Consul General to Singapore, Huang Zunxian (1848-1905). These sources reveal how intricately entangled were the secular, commercial, political and religious realms at the end of the golden age of the Chinese temple network in Southeast Asia.

 

Fryklund, Kristin Ingrid, trsl. The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons: A Seventeenth-Century Novel. Seattle: University of Washington Press, 2021.

Abstract: The Lady of Linshui—the goddess of women, childbirth, and childhood—is still venerated in south China, Taiwan, and Southeast Asia. Her story evolved from the life of Chen Jinggu in the eighth century and blossomed in the Ming dynasty (1368–1644) into vernacular short fiction, legends, plays, sutras, and stele inscriptions at temples where she is worshipped. The full-length novel The Lady of Linshui Pacifies Demons narrates Chen Jinggu’s lifelong struggle with and eventual triumph over her spirit double and rival, the White Snake demon. Among accounts of goddesses in late imperial China, this work is unique in its focus on the physical aspects of womanhood, especially the dangers of childbirth, and in its dramatization of the contradictory nature of Chinese divinities. This unabridged, annotated translation provides insights into late imperial Chinese religion, the lives of women, and the structure of families and local society.

 

Ganany, Noga. “Journeys Through the Netherworld in Late-Ming Hagiographic Narratives” Late Imperial China 42, no. 2 (2021): 137–178.

Abstract: This article examines the trope of journeys through the netherworld in late Ming hagiographic narratives, or "origin narratives," that celebrate the life stories of gods, immortals, and historic figures. Origin narratives share a common narrative structure that standardizes the life stories of revered figures as a cyclical journey, marked by the protagonist's descent to the human world and final re-ascent to heaven. The protagonist's journey through the netherworld not only mirrors the overarching structure of origin narratives, but also represents a turning point, both structurally and thematically. While traveling through the realm of the dead is not in itself a precondition for deification, it provides the protagonists with a canvas to demonstrate the specific attributes for which they are revered, and therefore acts as a rite of passage that paves the way for the protagonist's deification. This article explores the significance of the netherworld-journey trope in the hagiographic vision propagated by origin narratives by focusing on three case studies: the demon-queller Zhong Kui, the bodhisattva Guanyin, and the Daoist saint Sa Shoujian. Through these case studies, I argue that netherworld journeys in origin narratives represent the culmination of two concomitant trends in late-Ming print culture: the rise of a standardized hagiographical vision in "vernacular" narrative writing (xiaoshuo), and an intensified preoccupation with the realm of the dead.

 

 

Heng, Terence. Of Gods, Gifts and Ghosts : Spiritual Places in Urban Spaces. London: Routledge, 2021.

Abstract: How do individuals inscribe their spiritual identities and diasporic ethnicities in the city? Through a series of sociological and photographic essays, Terence Heng maps the various rituals, collectives, individuals and events that characterise Chinese religion practices in Singapore. From spirit mediums to the Hungry Ghost Festival, each chapter engages with the social, the spatial and the ephemeral, and in so doing it will explore the significance and relevance of Chinese religion in a secular nation-state; reveal the strategies and tactics used by diasporic individuals to perform and retain their identities; uncover the importance of flow and fluidity in the making of sacred space; and evidence the value and efficacy of the use of photographs in social research. Of Gods, Gifts and Ghosts is a ground-breaking exploration into the intersections between visual sociology, cultural geography and creative photographic practice. A visual monograph that gives equal importance to image and text, it interrogates the tensions between sacred and profane, official and unofficial, state and individual, physical and spiritual, peeling away the myriad layers of the spiritual imagination.

 

Herrmann-Pillath, Carsten; Guo Man, Feng Xingyuan. Ritual and Economy in Metropolitan China: A Global Social Science Approach. London: Routledge, 2021.

Abstract: This book focuses on Shenzhen, one of China's most globalized metropolises, a leading centre of high-tech industries and, as a melting pot of migrants from all over China, a place of vibrant cultural creativity. While in the early stages of Shenzhen's development this vibrant cultural creativity was associated with the resilience of traditional social structures in Shenzhen's migrant 'urban villages', today these structures undergird dynamic entrepreneurship and urban self-organization throughout Shenzhen, and have gradually merged with the formal structures of urban governance and politics. This book examines these developments, showing how important traditional social structures and traditional Chinese culture have been for China's economic modernization. The book goes on to draw out the implications of this for the future of Chinese culture and Chinese economic engagement in a globalized world.

 

Hsu Yu-Tsuen, Chang Wei-An, and Chang Han-Pi. “The Sarawak Dabogong Festival and Its Social Significance in the Chinese Community in Malaysia.” Review of Religion and Chinese Society 8, no. 1 (2021): 39–60.

Abstract: Dabogong is a Chinese deity with a widespread following in Sarawak; however, the connections between Dabogong temples are underdeveloped compared with that between Chinese subethnic associations.1 Therefore, Sibu Dabogong Temple proposed to establish an association to plan and oversee the Sarawak Dabogong Festival in 2009. Since then, the scope of the organization's membership and activities has become national as well as international. To learn how the social meaning of the festival is understood by the participants, we reviewed the local historical literature, conducted field research, and administered a questionnaire survey during the third Sarawak Dabogong Festival at Kuching 10 Miles in Sarawak in 2011. First, we explored the defining characteristic of Dabogong temples in Sarawak, the prominence of Dabogongin the Sarawak Chinese community, reasons for building temples, the accompanying gods in a Dabogong temple, and the timing of temple construction. Next, we examined the formation of the Dabogong Festival and the characteristics of the participants. Finally, we determined that the social significance of the festival can be attributed to its role in the transmission of Chinese tradition and the promotion of Dabogong belief.

 

Hu, Jiechen. “The Scripture of Filial Piety [Revealed] by Wenchang: A Bibliographical Study.” Acta Orientalia Hungarica 74, no. 2 (2021): 241–265.

Abstract: This article discusses the date of the Scripture of Filial Piety [Revealed] by Wenchang (Wenchang xiaojing 文 昌孝經). The central claim of this contribution is that the Scripture appeared during the Ming-Qing transition, being a product of the ritualisation of the Classic of Filial Piety (Xiaojing 孝經). By examining more than twenty different editions, this article identifies at least three different lines of textual transmission, each connected to distinctive commentaries and reprints. Confucian literati were the main social actors responsible for the creation, reproduction, redaction, and annotation of the extant editions.

 

Huntington, Rania. “Charting a Strange Garden: Mapping the Kuaiyuan Zhiyi.” Late Imperial China 42, no. 2 (2021): 179–224.

Abstract: No matter how bizarre or fantastic the events they describe, zhiguai (tales of the strange) are almost always set in mundane locations that can be located on a map, proving a wealth of geographic information for a body of narrative between the personal and the collective. Using GIS (Geographic Information Systems), this article explores the intersection of geography with conceptual categories of the strange in Qian Xiyan's early seventeenth century collection Kuaiyuan zhiyi, examining it on the levels of the collection as a whole, thematic categories, a particular region, and interregional connections. The city of Suzhou is Qian's central focus where all the different forms of the divine and the demonic cross paths.

 

 

Jia, Jinhua. “Writings, Emotions, and Oblations: The Religious-Ritual Origin of the Classical Confucian Conception of Cheng (Sincerity).” Religions 12 (2021).

 

Katz, Paul R., and Vincent Goossaert. The Fifty Years That Changed Chinese Religion, 1898–1948. Ann Arbor, MI: Association for Asian Studies, 2021.

Abstract: In recent years, both scholars and the general public have become increasingly fascinated by the role of religion in modern Chinese life. However, the bulk of attention has been devoted to changes caused by the repression of the Maoist era and subsequent religious revival. The Fifty Years That Changed Chinese Religion breaks new ground by systematically demonstrating that equally important transformative processes occurred during the period covering the last decade of the Qing dynasty and the entire Republican period. Focusing on Shanghai and Zhejiang, this book delves in depth into the real-life workings of social structures, religious practices and personal commitments as they evolved during this period of wrenching changes. At the same time, it goes further than the existing literature in terms of theoretical models and comparative perspectives, notably with other Asian countries such as Korea and Japan.

 

 

Matthews, William. Cosmic Coherence: A Cognitive Anthropology Through Chinese Divination. New York: Berghahn Books, 2021.

Abstract: Humans are unique in their ability to create systematic accounts of the world – theories based on guiding cosmological principles. This book is about the role of cognition in creating cosmologies, and explores this through the ethnography and history of Yijing divination in China. Diviners explain the cosmos in terms of a single substance, qi, unfolding across scales of increasing complexity to create natural phenomena and human experience. Combined with an understanding of human cognition, it shows how this conception of scale offers a new way for anthropologists and other social scientists to think about cosmology, comparison and cultural difference.

 

 

Oakes, Tim. “Heritage, Ritual Space, and Contested Urbanization in Southern China.” In Heritage and Religion in East Asia, edited by Shu-Li Wang, Michael Rowlands, and Yujie Zhu, 105–124. London: Routledge, 2021.

 

 

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.

 

Roderich Ptak. “Mazu und Zheng He im Jahre 1403: Notizen zu Einträgen in zwei religiösen Texten.“ In Profesor Roman Malek SVD i jego dzieło dla Kościoła w Chinach: Księga pamiątkowa / Prof. Roman Malek SVD und sein Wirken für die Kirche in China: Gedenkschrift / Prof. Roman Malek SVD and His Work for the Church in China: Commemorative Volume, edited by Barbara Hoster, Dirk Kuhlmann, Michał Studnik SVD, and Zbigniew Wesołowski SVD, 263–281. Górna Grupa: VERBINUM, 2021.

Abstract: The Tianfei xiansheng lu 天妃顯聖錄, a familiar work, tells us that Zheng He 鄭和 undertook a voyage in 1403 and that Mazu 媽祖, the Chinese goddess of seafarers, assisted him in a storm. Another text, the Meizhou haishen zhuan 湄州海神傳, written earlier and less well known, refers to the same event. The present article examines the relevant parts in both sources. It offers suggestions regarding the possible interpretations of certain details and how they might fit into the general narrative of these accounts. The conclusion is that the entry in Tianfei xiansheng lu could be based on the earlier text and that historians must be careful when using such records for the study of Zheng He’s voyages.

 

 

Reich, Aaron K. "In the Shadow of the Spirit Image: The Production, Consecration, and Enshrinement of a Daoist Statue in Northern Taiwan." Journal of Chinese Religions 49, no. 2 (2021): 265–324.

Abstract: Statues of the gods, or spirit images (shenxiang 神像), remain among the most ubiquitous material objects in the religious culture of modern-day Taiwan. Notwithstanding, research to date has yet to examine adequately the people and processes that produce, consecrate, and enshrine these statues, work that effects a transformation of these cult statues into sacred presences. How should we understand the relationship between these artistic and ritual processes and the resulting spirit image that is born out of them? The article argues that the spirit image at the heart of this study, a statue of the Daoist god Guangcheng Zi 廣成子, emerges in the context of its religious lifeworld not as a discrete entity, but rather as an “assemblage,” a coming together of the people who contribute to it, the materials those people use, and the specific spirits and divine powers those people invoke.

 

Reiter, Florian C. "Tao 道 and Fa 法 in the Taoist Cult of Marīci 摩利支天大聖 and a Coastal Cult in Present-Day Northern Taiwan: Basic Aspects of the Study of Taoist Religion and Folk Religion." Zeitschrift der Deutschen Morgenländischen Gesellschaft 171, no. 2 (2021): 459–478.

 

Shen, Yeh-Ying. "The Expansion of the Andong Division of Yiguan Dao in Austria." Journal of Chinese Religions 49, no. 2 (2021): 241–264.

Abstract: This article examines the dissemination of an Yiguan Dao division, Andong, in Austria. Proselytizing activities of Andong are mainly conducted in Vienna, Linz, and Salzburg. In Vienna and Linz, Yiguan Dao has formed a diasporic religion for overseas Chinese from various national backgrounds. It caters to the Austrian Chinese community and engages in creating a shared diasporic identity. This paper also explores Andong’s most characteristic trait that distinguishes it from other divisions, namely, meditation. This practice seems to have attracted a number of Austrians to follow Yiguan Dao in both Vienna and Salzburg. Being a Chinese diasporic religion and attempting to spread cross-ethnically in Austria at the same time, Yiguan Dao is assuming new significance.

Tischer, Jacob Friedemann. "The Invisible Hand of the Temple (Manager): Gangsters, Political Power, and Transfers of Spiritual Capital in Taiwan's Mazu Pilgrimages." Review of Religion and Chinese Society 8, no. 1 (2021): 61–91.

Abstract: Religious institutions continue to provide important stages on which politicians participate in public rituals in secular democratic Taiwan. In particular, the annual Mazu pilgrimages bring together tens of thousands of people from all over the island, including candidates in presidential elections. I interpret temple ritual as a public arena in which the community of worshipers creates a reservoir of symbolic capital. Political and economic elites seek to gain access to this resource and appeal to the mass of worshipers by conducting what has essentially become a nation-defining ritual. At the same time, relying on temples as institutions of cultural authority raises the profile of their managing elites, who may themselves become influential powerbrokers. I explore these dynamics by referring to the case of Zhenlangong, the temple organizing Taiwan's largest Mazu pilgrimage, and its longtime manager, a former Mafia boss who uses the temple to legitimate and expand his political activities.

 

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, 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, Xiaoyang, and Shixiao Wang. “On the Differences between Han Rhapsodies and Han Paintings in Their Portrayal of the Queen Mother of the West and Their Religious Significance.” Religions 13 (2022).

 

Wang, Yuting. "Diverse Religious Experiences among Overseas Chinese in the United Arab Emirates." In Chinese Religions Going Global, edited by Nanlai Cao, Giuseppe Giordan, and Fenggang Yang, 236–254. Annual Review of the Socviology of Religion, vol. 11. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

 

Yang, Hung-Jen. "Between Cultural Reproduction and Cultural Translation: A Case Study of Yiguandao in London and Manchester." In Chinese Religions Going Global, edited by Nanlai Cao, Giuseppe Giordan, and Fenggang Yang, 157–173. Annual Review of the Socviology of Religion, vol. 11. Leiden: Brill, 2021.

 

 

Zhang, Chunni; Yunfeng Lu, He Sheng. “Exploring Chinese Folk Religion: Popularity, Diffuseness, and Diversities.” Chinese Journal of Sociology 7, no. 4 (2021): 575–592.

Abstract: Folk religion, as the basis of the religious landscape in traditional China, is a highly syncretic system which includes elements from Buddhism, Daoism, and other traditional religious beliefs. Due to the shortcomings of denomination-based measurement, most previous social surveys have documented a very low percentage of folk religion adherents in China, and found almost no overlapping among religious beliefs. This study offers a quantitative portrait of the popularity, the diffuseness, and the diversity of Chinese folk religion. With the improved instruments in the 2018 China Family Panel Studies, we first observe that nearly 50% of respondents claim to have multiple (two or even more than three) religious beliefs and the believers of folk religion account for about 70% of the population. By using latent class analysis, this article explores the pattern of inter-belief mixing and identifies four typical classes of religious believers: “non-believers and single-belief believers”, “believers of geomancy”, “believers of diffused Buddhism and Daoism”, and “believers embracing all beliefs”. Finally, we find that the degree of commitment varies across these religious classes. Believers of folk religion are found to be less committed than believers of Western institutional religions, but as committed as believers of Eastern institutional religions.

 

Zhang Yanchao. "Transnational Religious Tourism in Modern China and the Transformation of the Cult of Mazu." Religions 12 (2021): 221. https://doi.org/10.3390/rel12030221

Abstract: This article explores transformations in the worship of popular goddess Mazu as a result of (religious) tourism. In particular, it focuses on the role of transnational tourism in the invention of tradition, folklorization, and commodification of the Mazu cult. Support from the central and local governments and the impact of economic globalization have transformed a traditional pilgrimage site that initially had a local and then national scope into a transnational tourist attraction. More specifically, the ancestral temple of Mazu at Meizhou Island, which was established as the uncontested origin of Mazu's cult during the Song dynasty (960 to 1276), has been reconfigured architecturally and liturgically to function as both a sacred site and a tourist attraction. This reconfiguration has involved the reconstruction of traditional rituals and religious performances for religious tourism to promote the temple as the unadulterated expression of an intangible cultural heritage. The strategic combination of traditional rituals such as "dividing incense" and an innovative ceremony enjoining all devotees of "Mazu all over the world [to] return to mother's home" to worship her have not only consolidated the goddess as a symbol of common cultural identity in mainland China, but also for the preservation of Chinese identity in diaspora. Indeed, Chinese migrants and their descendants are among the increasing numbers of pilgrims/tourists who come to Mazu's ancestral temple seeking to reconnect with their heritage by partaking in authentic traditions. This article examines the spatial and ritual transformations that have re-signified this temple, and by extension, the cult of Mazu, as well as the media through which these transformations have spread transnationally. We will see that (transnational) religious tourism is a key medium.

 

Zhao, Xiaohuan. “Form Follows Function in Community Rituals in North China: Temples and Temple Festivals in Jiacun Village.” Religions 12 (2021).