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Faculty of Asian and Middle Eastern Studies

Start date : 
October, 2022
Thesis Topic: 
The Religious Tradition of Overseas Sailors in Late Imperial China
Research Summary: 
My dissertation explores the religious traditions of pre-modern Chinese overseas merchants. Before China transitioned to modern shipping, Chinese seafarers sailed junks across far-reaching sea routes spanning the entire South China Sea and beyond for hundreds of years. In doing so, they developed unique religious beliefs, such as a distinct pantheon of deities and shipborne rituals, as they charted the seas as a sacred geography. The mariners’ traditions manifest through maritime writings, rutters, and ritual handbooks from the Song to the Qing eras, and their influence is apparent in modern-day ceremonies as well. Examining this broad range of sources shows a consistent and apprehendable tradition that reflects the historical beliefs and perceptions of Chinese maritime society as also adds to our understanding of modern religion in China.